TWO donkeys rescued from squalor are now enjoying the best of life being cared for by students and staff at a West Midlands college.

Isla and Isabelle, found alongside five more donkeys and counted amongst a total of 44 neglected animals at Little Meadow Animal Rescue, Stoke Bliss, had overgrown hooves, lice-infested coats and were living in squalid conditions when The Donkey Sanctuary’s Donkey Welfare Advisers Hannie Buckley and Tewsday Herbert, and Senior Donkey Welfare Adviser Georgia McCormick, arrived at their site.

with Isabelle the donkey.Donkey welfare advisor Hannie Buckley with Isabelle the donkey after she was rescued.  (Image: The Donkey Sanctuary)

The discovery of the animals saw Little Meadow owner Graham Stephens, of Broad Street, Bromyard, banned from keeping animals for life and jailed for eight months by Worcester magistrates after pleading guilty to eight offences under the Animal Welfare Act. 

In a statement to the court, RSPCA acting chief inspector Thea Kerrison and inspector Suzi Smith said the donkeys had little to no grazing and were eating dirty, wet straw which had been laid as a dry base to stand on. Broken barbed wire fencing, scrap metal, and "many hazards" were found in the area, they said.

But, more than two years on, Isla and Isabelle’s lives have drastically changed.

The donkeys were both heavily pregnant at the time of rescue and gave birth to healthy foals shortly after arriving at the holding base – Harry to Isla and Henry to Isabelle.

Isla and Isabelle before (L) and after (R)Isla and Isabelle before (L) and after (R) (Image: The Donkey Sanctuary)

The two donkeys made a full recovery from their health concerns, now spending their days with animal welfare and veterinary nursing students at Solihull College and University Centre.


Isla and Isabelle have taken the place of donkeys Archie and Eeyore, who spent more than a decade at the college’s Blossomfield Campus.

Claire Powell, the college’s head of school for Animal Management and Veterinary Nursing, said: “College favourites Archie and Eeyore had been on-site interacting with students for more than 15 years until Eeyore sadly passed away last year. 

Archie now enjoys living with long-eared companion Hector. As part of the process, the college sought to replace Archie with two new donkeys, and Isla and Isabelle were the perfect match.

The pair have been thriving since their arrival at the college and look forward to a bright future under the care and company of the school’s staff and students.