Warning: Graphic images - donkeys found in 'horrendous' condition
An Irish animal sanctuary has accepted 16 donkeys for rehabilitation from Mayo where they were found frozen, starving and ill in a water-logged field.
One animal welfare official who examined the donkeys in the field in south Mayo described their condition as "absolutely horrendous" and revealed the half-rotten carcass of a donkey was discovered nearby.
Department of Agriculture inspectors were alerted and they contacted The Donkey Sanctuary in Cork for help.
The Liscarroll-based charity agreed to accept the 16 donkeys and they were transported to Cork for care.
All 16 are now undergoing veterinary care and careful rehabilitation given their starved and neglected condition.
Donkey Sanctuary welfare advisor, David Walsh, said the donkeys were so badly malnourished they had resorted to trying to eat tree branches.
"These donkeys were abandoned with no food or water," he said.
"They had resorted to drinking water from puddles and were trying to eat tree branches because they were so hungry. To see these lovely animals huddled together in misery with a dead donkey in plain sight is horrific."
The 16 animals recovered are all male and range in age from two to 20 years.
Many were so badly neglected that their overgrown hooves allow them to walk only with great pain.
Experts warned it will take weeks to restore the donkeys to full health.
The animals will even have to be treated for skin conditions given the matted and filthy conditions of their coats.
Donkey Sanctuary head of operations, Noel Carton, paid tribute to the Department of Agriculture officials involved.
"We are grateful to the Department officials in Mayo for alerting us to the presence of these donkeys. We can now begin the process of getting them back to full health."
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