After considerable efforts, including two particularly complex flights and an unexpected delay of nearly two weeks, 58 donkeys were transferred from Israel to a rehabilitation facility in France with the assistance of the Environmental Protection Ministry's Animal Welfare Division.
The journey began on June 24 when the donkeys were loaded onto a cargo plane to begin their journey which included a layover in Belgium. Local veterinarians examined the animals and after one was found to have limp and swollen lymph nodes, the group was isolated and quarantined for further medical examinations.
Tests were conducted every few days, during which time all the donkeys were forced to remain in a small, and badly suited facility. The delay also resulted in significant financial costs. The greenlight to continue on their journey to France was given after two weeks and the donkeys finally arrived at their final destination and were released onto the green fields at the La Tanière - Zoo refuge near Chartres.
The Starting Over donkey sanctuary has been rescuing donkeys from across the country for years. Some were brought to the sanctuary with the assistance of the Environmental Protection Ministry. Most donkeys arrived in poor condition and required significant rehabilitation. Due to the increasing need for assistance for more donkeys and the absence of a permanent solution for them, the French rehabilitation sanctuary La Tanière was selected as a new hope for the animals.
Some 300 donkeys were sent to the French sanctuary in the past. They have a period of acclimatization before adoptive families are found. The ministry emphasized the importance of the project to provide better lives for the donkeys and said it was providing funds that would cover half of the costs of their relocation.
"There are still several hundred donkeys left in Israel," Sharon Cohen from Starting Over said. "In recent years, tens of thousands of donkeys were transferred to Gaza, and from there, they are sent through Egypt for use in the cosmetics industry in China. With the intervention of Knesset members, we have managed to slow down the pace of this and rescue the majority of donkeys that were slotted for shipment to Gaza. Only 29 donkeys were transferred instead of over a thousand that were expected."
Cohen also said that in France, the donkeys are welcomed with love and adopted as pets under meticulous contracts. The families who adopted them often reach out to express their gratitude.