A Donkey Sanctuary admitted today that most of last year's record intake of rescue animals were, in fact, ‘men in quite convincing pantomime donkey costumes, many of them Greek’. It also announced an immediate overhaul of its admission procedures.
‘It can be quite tricky to spot a real donkey from a fake sometimes’ said a spokesman, ‘especially when 500 of them turn up at your gates holding signs in their mouths reading “my master no feed me any more. Plees help”. Our policy is to help first, ask questions later - although with hindsight the fact that some of the animals could actually answer our questions was a bit of a giveaway.’
The fakers, most of whom came from Athens, were thought to have been drawn to the Santuary by its multi-million pound endowment, its offer of free food and lodging for life for abused animals, its beautiful Devon location and its excellent on-site medical facilities. ‘OK so we had to walk around a field on all fours being stared at by visitors, and the food was a bit ‘oaty’, said one of the asinine impersonators, ‘but in stable number 6 we had a radio, tv, everything’ In Piraeus my bank had just repossessed the stereo – what did I have to lose?’
One of the donkeys underwent a major heart operation during his stay, and the surgeons were shocked when the first incision in his skin revealed a subcutaneous layer described as ‘patterned bri-nylon’. They were even more surprised by the anatomical irregularities described as ‘two hearts, and some extra limbs kicking around in there’ but decided to submit their findings to the prestigious journal ‘Nature’, rather than query the judgement of their superiors as to the species of creature laying on the slab before them. The fraud only came to light when a visitor provided photographic evidence of ‘Hercules the blind donkey’ smoking a joint whilst talking on a mobile phone’ in the far corner of field 8.
Despite the fraud a government spokesman confirmed there were no plans to introduce new regulatory oversight, but suggested the sanctuary reduce the benefits it gives its charges. ‘Whenever you have a system of donkey welfare it fosters a culture of donkey welfare dependency – we’ve seen that again and again’ he said. ‘Make them work for their keep – haul coal trucks, give rides on the beach – that should deter future freeloaders, be they man or beast’.
A spokesman for Battersea Dog’s Home was more sympathetic: ‘I can understand with an animal that size how you might get caught out, but it’s never happened to us. Well, except for that time when a particularly smooth puppy we reared for four years turned out to be someone’s unwanted child. Honestly, some people just suck the milk of human kindness out of you’.