Nympho, a male donkey who is 55 years old.

Nympho the donkey has been with Henrietta since she was only ten years old. He was roughly twenty years old when he arrived at the Bisgood smallholding, and for most of his life, he shared a field with another male donkey, called Maniac. Since Maniac died eight years ago, Nympho has lived on his own, but he’s a social animal, seeking out company from time to time. There are horses in nearby fields, and he likes to stand near them. He also fraternises with wild deer that visit his paddock. In the winter months, he gets restless, and manages to break out of his field to find grass in the adjoining fields. Henrietta has found him at her back door, looking for attention and pony nuts.

Nympho has always been adored by young children. As a girl, Henrietta used to sit on his back for short rides around the fields, and he continues to offer entertainment to the younger generation. He’s often visited by Henrietta’s nieces and nephews, Maria, Louisa, Richard and Alexander and he’s still happy to carry them around.

He spends most of his time ambling around fields, grazing on the plentiful grass. He has a thick furry coat, but Henrietta worries about him being warm enough on chilly winter days, so from time to time she’s bought pony-type coats for him to wear. On these occasions, Nympho has given demonstrations of the stubborn nature for which donkeys are renowned. He wriggles and struggles as the coat is put on, and even when it has been secured in place with straps and buckles, he doesn’t give up. The longest time that any coat has lasted is three days. Invariably, Nympho manages to pull it off his back, and Henrietta has found the rejected coat discarded in a ditch.

He’s been a remarkably healthy donkey. He’s visited by a farrier several times a year, to stop his hooves from growing too long. Henrietta regularly checks his teeth, but they are now so flattened that they are almost level with his gums. He’s intermittently harassed by magpies, landing on his back and pecking him, causing small wounds that Henrietta has to treat, but he never seems to be bothered by the problem.

As he has moved into old age, he’s had occasional serious health crises. The worst was a year ago, when he fell into a gravel pit. Henrietta found him lying on his back, with his legs in the air, and she thought that he had reached the end of the line. He was pulled out of the pit with ropes and a tractor with the help of her brother Edward and neighbour Alan, and amazingly, he made a full recovery. In the last few years, he has fallen over a few times, and when he’s down, he sometimes needs help to get up. Henrietta has called out the local vet, thinking that euthanasia might be needed. Each time, the vet has found him to be in good general health, apart from arthritis which makes his joints stiff and awkward.  Pain relief has been prescribed, and it’s made a huge difference to his quality of life. Initially, he had a daily dose, but Henrietta found that he was so perky that he was almost aggressive. She’s reduced his dose to a twice weekly top up, and this seems to suit him, giving him enough mobility to walk and trot around without getting over-excited.

The oldest donkey in the world died a few years ago, at the age of sixty. Nympho is looking good at fifty five, and Henrietta’s hoping that he’ll go on for a few more years yet. His stubborn nature will help – he’s enjoying life too much to give it up.

Tips

  • Donkeys can live for up to sixty years
  • As they get older, they suffer from typical old age problems, like arthritis
  • With veterinary help, such illnesses can be treated very effectively

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