An orphaned week-old foal sleeps soundly in the lap of its new surrogate mum – a jumbo TEDDY BEAR.
Breeze the bay pony was found abandoned on Dartmoor National Park just a few hours after his birth.
Unable to find his mother, the tiny foundling was stumbling hopelessly around the hillside trying to suckle other mares.
By the time rescuers from a local equine sanctuary arrived Breeze had collapsed in a state of severe shock and dehydration.
But after being nursed back to health over the following days he was missing one vital thing – a mum to cuddle and snuggle up to.
Staff at the Devon-based Mare and Foal Sanctuary knew just the answer to comfort the lonely newborn – a four foot teddy they have named Buttons.
Sanctuary executive director Syra Bowden said: “Sadly, little Breeze hasn’t got his mum around to keep him company.
“Although his carers here at the sanctuary work around the clock to look after him, it’s not quite the same.
“As a result, we always give our orphaned foals a giant cuddly toy as a companion.
“They’re just like human babies in the way it provides them with comfort”.
Breeze is being nursed 24 hours a day by a dedicated team of carers at the sanctuary’s Honeysuckle Farm in Newton Abbot, Devon.
He was found on May 24 by a Dartmoor farmer who was unable to locate his mother.
After arriving at the equine centre staff and their vet spent the next three hours by the poorly foal’s side as he was placed on a saline drip, had a catheter fitted and was given crucial colostrum drips, milk and medication.
A week on, Syra said Breeze was making real progress – buoyed by his cuddly new companion.
A similarly gigantic teddy proved just the tonic for Mesha, another orphaned pony who was taken in last month and became so attached to hers that she still sleeps and snuggles up to it like a real mum.
Syra said: “Breeze was very poorly when we first reached him and it was very much touch and go.
“He’s now suckling well and feeding every hour. He even tried to have a little canter and buck in his stable over the weekend.
“He’s not out of the woods yet, though. We’ll keep a very close eye on him and care for him around the clock to ensure we do everything possible to help him pull through.
“We all have our fingers crossed that Breeze will continue to grow strong”.
The charity is appeallng to the public to donate any suitable soft toys that might help future arrivals.
To find out more visit www.mareandfoal.org/shops or call the sanctuary on 01626 355 969.