A donkey, too, is for life

December 15, 2011
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Zvika Tamuz and one of his rescued donkeys

Zvika Tamuz and one of his rescued donkeys

An international animal rights charity has made donkeys the focus of its Christmas appeal, and has picked a sanctuary in Israel.

Former "pet detective" Zvika Tamuz, who has run a donkey sanctuary in Kfar Shmuel since 2007, has been championed by the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

"In biblical times, the donkey was honourable," he said. "Now he is something that can be kicked around. I am trying to give them back their honour. They say the Messiah will come on a donkey. Until then, I will take care of them."

He provides emergency care for donkeys and horses, rescuing 132 animals this year, and there are currently 60 at his facility, some of whose injuries are so bad they will never be allowed home.

He said: "It began when the price of iron went up, people decided to buy a donkey or a horse and use them to transport iron they had collected or stolen.

"They bought the cheapest animal possible, probably lame, and then loaded them up until they collapsed. The animal welfare organisations in Israel don't know how to deal with horses and donkeys, only dogs and cats. So every time they found one, they asked me if I could take it."

Mr Tamuz has received death threats from disgruntled owners, and his facility is guarded by 10 guard dogs. This year he helped rescue a donkey while under sniper fire and managed to coax another through a minefield to safety. One he rescued had been set on fire by youths.

WSPA, which advises governments and the UN on animal rights, will focus its British fundraising efforts on the Israeli charity.

Middle East Programmes manager Alistair Findlay said: "Zvika is a real miracle worker but even miracles cost money. Feeding, treating and housing these equines costs thousands."

    Last updated: 2:09pm, December 15 2011