55 days of a mother’s love

 In Blog, Rescue Stories

Today we said goodbye to a beautiful mother donkey – the gentle mother of Stampella.  Stampella—which mean “crutch” in Italian–was born on 1st July to a mother who had only three legs.  Nine days ago, Deborah (Stampella’s mother) experienced a sudden dislocation of her left hip, and lay down in great discomfort.  Animal Aid staff and volunteers have done everything possible to make Deborah comfortable, but she got weaker and weaker and continued to painfully struggle to stand causing more injuries.

We made the agonizing but what we feel was the most compassionate decision to put her to sleep this morning. Kamala, who has been giving Stampella lots of special love and food even before Deborah laid down, came to Deborah surrounded by other loving people and assured Deborah “I will be Stampella’s Mommy. Don’t worry, I will be Stampella’s Mommy. I’ll take care of her for you.”

Many of us cried—a lot. We moved Stampella into another area for a little while and after Deborah’s body was moved out of the paddock where they had always been together, Stampella brayed for the first time in her life—calling for her mother. This stopped us in our tracks and our tears flowed anew.

Being a part of this heart-wrenching separation of mother and daughter, who had been within nuzzling distance of each other every single moment since Stampella was born 55 days ago, made us remember with a new poignancy and sadness the billions of mothers and their babies around the world who are forcefully separated in dairies, factory farms, circuses, and laboratories.

Being around cows and donkeys has taught us so much about their emotional lives, their natures. At this moment Stampella is very sad. Erika held her head close for an hour after Deborah died, and then Kamala came in to “take over.”  Stampella’s head is hanging low. We have brought some friends into the paddock to try to cheer her up—a young boy donkey named Teddybear, and a young girl calf named Lakshmi.

Teddybear’s foot was lost when his owner tied plastic tape around two legs to hobble him, and it appears that the circulation was cut off from the fetlock. He will live the rest of his life at Animal Aid.

We hope that Teddybear will be a comfort to Stampella. For the first few days we will have to oversee Stampella’s eating, because she has never had to share any food with anyone. We’ll have to make sure she has lots of time to eat and gets plenty. She isn’t wanting cow’s milk—we’ve been trying to feed it to her for several days but she’s hardly taking any—she prefers green grass and hay.

We are thankful that for 55 beautiful days in which Stampella was loved every minute by her wonderful mother, she was given a strong start in life and has learned early what love feels like. We don’t intend to ever let her forget it.


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