A 12-week-old baby donkey which was stolen from a farm more than two weeks ago has been reunited with her mother and her “ecstatic” owners following a police investigation.
The young animal, named Moon, was taken from Miller’s Ark Animals in Hook, Hampshire, some time before 5pm on May 15.
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary said appeals for information had attracted “countless calls and online reports from members of the public”.
Miller’s Ark owner Elizabeth Miller said the incident brought sadness to the public, which she found “really overwhelming”.
“My work at Miller’s Ark over 33 years has been to bring joy and happiness to people through my animals and share that, and we believe our animals inspire people’s lives and that’s something we really treasure, so in a sense that our news brought so much sadness was hard,” she told the PA news agency.
Ms Miller described Moon as a “very joyful resilient character” but believes she was “traumatised to be away from mum”.
Ms Miller said she hopes Moon’s reunion with her mother, Astra, helps to highlight the kind people who helped find the baby donkey.
“There certainly are people in the world who are bad and evil, but I just think that there are just so many people who are amazing,” she said.
“The world is full of the most amazing people… so let’s remember that too.”
At around 8.15pm, the stolen donkey was located, recovered and returned to her mother and the “grateful” staff at Miller’s Ark Animals.
A video posted on the farm’s Facebook page shows Ms Miller hugging and kissing Moon, who is wagging her tail.
“We are beyond thrilled and mum and foal are finally back together,” the Facebook post reads.
“Moon appears to be in good health, thank heavens, and we will make sure that Moon and her mum Astra get lots of love and care as they rediscover each other.”
On Moon’s safe return, Pamela Jessopp, who works at Miller’s Ark Animals, said: “We are beyond excited – ecstatic.
“You always hold out hope, but as the timeframe and the time window got larger, you do wonder if she would be found or not.”
Ms Jessopp added: “It is so much down to members of the public, our supporters that have got the word out there and spread it on social media. It’s been a heartfelt story that has caught people’s emotions.
“We are very grateful to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, Surrey Police and Thames Valley Police for their support and investigation and for the speedy action last night.”
In a statement, Hampshire Police Sergeant Stuart Ross said: “This was a fantastic piece of joint working from Countrywatch and Thames Valley Police’s Rural Task Force team.
“Our appeals to find Moon attracted countless calls and online reports from members of the public with possible sightings and potential lines of inquiry, and we want to thank everyone who shared these appeals and got in touch with us.
“We have worked tirelessly to locate Moon, scouring CCTV footage to see if we could find her, so we are absolutely delighted about this positive outcome.
“Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary’s Countrywatch team will continue with an investigation into the circumstances of the theft of this donkey.”
The inquiry is continuing and anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting the reference number 44230191581.