Sometimes you can hear a hungry hee-haw from the château’s park and if you step outside to investigate, you’ll see our two donkeys, Gégé and Haribo. They’re funny, friendly and kind and are now happy and well-cared for. But that wasn’t always the case.
Six years ago, a hiker told us about a small, sad donkey, hungry and abandoned, and when we went to look, we saw for ourselves how malnourished and broken he was. It was an incredibly cold winter and his empty gaze, devoid of hope, deeply saddened us. We drove 40 kilometers every day to feed him and break the ice in his bucket so that he could drink water from it. He started recognizing the sound of our car and would welcome us with a delighted hee-haw. After a few weeks, we were able to save Haribo from the pasture where he was staying and he came to live in the castle. He is now fully recovered and has become a lovely, comical and sneaky donkey, playing tricks on you whenever he can. But a lonely donkey is not a happy donkey. We realized that Haribo wouldn’t be satisfied living out his days at the château without a buddy at his side. We called a foundation in the Île-de-France region, which after an interview and a visit confirmed that Haribo needed a roommate.
GéGé arrived by truck from the south of France, accompanied by the foundation volunteer who had found him. GéGé had been mistreated for a long time. Chains had scarred his legs and hooves and he was obviously in tremendous pain. Taken in by the foundation, he was cared for and partially rehabilitated, but his former owner’s mistreatment had made him terrified of men. His fear made him difficult to approach, as he would kick very violently if we came anywhere near his hind legs. Six blacksmiths tried to touch his rear hooves, to no avail. It would take several weeks and large bags of sweets before he’d get used to the presence of men and we cried tears of joy on the day that we came near his back hooves and he continued to nonchalantly nibble at his favorite treats. GéGé finally understood that we were only trying to help him. He now trusts us and has become a big baby that loves to cuddle and requires a lot of love, unlike Haribo who only thinks of playing tricks and acting the clown, which makes us laugh a lot.