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Severely Neglected Donkey Rescued After Years of Abuse Gives Birth to Miracle Foal

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After decades of nightmarish abuse, one donkey has overcome all odds and surprised her owner with a small miracle.

In the spring of 2018, Ashley Nelms of Flare Oaks Rescue was on the receiving end of an alarming call. The caller reported that Tulip, a donkey living in a cattle field next door, appeared severely neglected. It turned out that Tulip had been suffering without proper care for most of her 20 years.

“She received zero care for years and years which lead to her developing several severe health issues,” Nelms told Liftable, a section of The Western Journal.

“Because no one had ever trimmed her hooves, her feet were overgrown and she suffered from an extremely painful hoof condition called chronic laminitis.”

A close up image of open wounds on Tulip's body and legs.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Nelms
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The pain in Tulip’s hooves was nearly intolerable. The donkey often couldn’t bear to stand and often resorted to lying on the ground to endure the long and agonizing days.

“She was down for so long her body became covered in body sores and wounds that flies [were] feasting on. Since she was unable to stand and eat she was also underweight and exhausted,” Nelms said.

Tulip's hooves are overgrown and untrimmed.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Nelms

Tulip was accompanied by a healthy male donkey that reportedly bred with her every year. However, Tulip was too weak to raise a foal. According to Nelms, she repeatedly watched her babies pass away at her side as a result of malnutrition.

When Nelms heard Tulip’s story, she immediately started working to secure the donkey a better home. Tulip was taken away from her owners and placed in the temporary care of local veterinarian Dr. Laureen Bartfield. Her hooves were given a necessary trim and her wounds began to heal.

Tulip the donkey lays in pasture with casts on her legs.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Nelms

Before Nelms brought Tulip to her “forever home” at Flare Oaks Rescue in August, Bartfield ran a test to ensure there was no sign of another foal on the way.

“While in recovery a pregnancy ultrasound was done and Dr. Bartfield was told Tulip was NOT pregnant,” Nelms said.

After enduring many long years of neglect, Tulip finally seemed to be on her way to recovery. She bonded easily with the other animals at Flare Oaks Rescue and adjusted quickly to her new home in a safe pasture. Nothing about Tulip seemed out of the ordinary — in fact, she appeared to be faring better than ever.

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“A few months went by and she was doing great, her personality was shining, she was feeling good and recovering well,” Nelms said.

One December morning, Nelms entered Tulip’s pasture to do some chores. It was then that she received the shock of her life.

Josie nurses from her mother Tulip in a stable.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Nelms

“On December 6, 2018 I was stunned to find Tulip had given birth in her pasture!” Nelms said. “Not only did the ultrasound say not pregnant but she never showed any signs of being pregnant!”

Nelms told Animal Kind that the birth was a shock: “Nobody knew when she was rescued she was about five or six months pregnant.”

The chance of pregnancy was made even more slim by the medication Tulip had been taking. Nevertheless, her baby girl, Josie, was born healthy. It was an absolute miracle.

“For the first time Tulip was healthy enough to raise her baby in a safe home surrounded by love,” Nelms said. “Tulip was an excellent mother! She was attentive, loving and took the very best care of her precious secret!”

Tulip and foal Josie stand in pasture and pose for camera.
Photo courtesy of Ashley Nelms

Since then, Tulip has been enjoying a carefree life at Flare Oaks Rescue. Josie and another newly adopted donkey, Ivy, never leave her side.

“Tulip’s life was a nightmare for decades but because she kept fighting and never gave up she has made it to a place where she is important and loved and free to live her life,” Nelms said. “Her resilience and strength is nothing short of amazing, she is a survivor and because of her strength she has provided her daughter with a life of safety.”

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Noel Marquis is a journalist and animal-lover hailing from the Midwest. After an internship with Disney following her college graduation, she pursued a career writing content that makes readers smile. Coffee, books and superhero movies are some of her favorite things.