Jenny stepped quickly off the trailer into her new home, striding over to Jack, who seemed interested in the fresh arrival.
The two donkeys leaned their gray faces toward each other for an instant, then Jack followed her around a bit before Jenny trotted off, exploring the far ends of her fenced pasture.
The gray and white Jerusalem donkey became the 18th livestock resident of the new Burleigh Manor Animal Sanctuary and Eco Retreat in Ellicott City, but that's if you don't count the tabby cat, Barnie. She doesn't qualify as livestock, although she arrived recently with her buddies, Jack the Sicilian donkey and a big pale horse named Doogie.
Livestock is the speciality at this historic manor house with 10 acres, recently turned into Howard County's only haven catering chiefly to farm animals. There's a horse rescue in Lisbon and Frisky's Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary in Woodstock, which mostly takes in primates and wildlife, but Burleigh Manor appears to be the county's first animal rescue with this focus.
"I think this is just the way I was raised," said Lisa Davis, the proprietor, who grew up on a horse farm in Chester County, Pa., and did the horse show circuit as a child. "My parents loved animals. I'm for the underdog."
Many of the animals here -- horses, donkeys, mules, goats, pigs -- count as underdogs. Some came from good homes where their owners, for reasons of illness or life changes, could no longer care for them. Others were rescued from neglect or the slaughterhouse.
Six were saved from "kill pens" at auction houses in Pennsylvania and Maryland, where horses are sold for dog food.
"Some came with the stickers on their tush from the kill auction," said Lise McKinnon, who volunteers at the sanctuary. She has five cats and two dogs at home, and finds her weekly visits to Burleigh Manor help control her habit of adopting animals.
"It keeps me from getting a divorce," she said.
Davis has had little trouble gathering animals into her care. Through word of mouth and a Facebook page that she put up after she and her family moved into the house in June, she's been getting a steady stream of referrals to animals needing help.
The first two to arrive were Vogue, an aging black thoroughbred horse, and Pagan, a senior appaloosa. Davis heard from the granddaughter of the man who had them on his land in Waldorf. It wasn't a case of willful abuse, but of an elderly man who could no longer take good care of the horses.
When the granddaughter saw the animals -- underweight and stuck in a field of mud rather than grass -- she put out the word that two horses needed a refuge. Davis got the call.
Vogue lost the sight in her left eye because of an infection that went untreated too long, and Pagan is entirely blind, but both have adjusted nicely to their new pasture. As far as Davis can tell, Pagan is "very comfortable with his blindness."
He and Vogue have been living in the intensive feeding area, putting back much of the weight they had lost through neglect. The two share a pasture with Amir, a pale Arabian and Brisk, a brown horse who went by the name Brisk Interlude in his harness racing days. Too slow for racing, Brisk was probably overworked on farms, Davis said, then cast off to the auction lot.
Now he's getting ointments for his back and legs, and a food supplement to help his joint movement.
Brisk and most of the other animals share quarters on occasion with two goats, Faint and Alpie, who came to the farm as casualties of a divorce. Davis has a notebook she keeps for sanctuary business, with a sheet about Jenny, but Alpie ate most of that page.
Jenny was picked up last month in Relay, where she'd been staying with Joe and Jean Bennett. They were caring for the horse for Joe's sister, Margie, an Eastern Shore resident who was not able to care for Jenny any longer.
On the bright morning of her move, Jenny walked with Davis up the long driveway from the Bennett's barn, and with the help of a little coaxing and some apple treats, stepped right into the trailer. Margie Bennett was there, rubbing her face goodbye.
"I promise I'll come see you," she said.
It's not so sad a parting as it might be, she said, because "I know she's going to a good home."
Davis has been traveling in the past six months, hitching a trailer to a Lexus SUV and retrieving lost souls, sometimes with her father, Eddie Davis, at the wheel. She's been to western and southern Maryland, to auction lots in New Holland, Pa., to Dover, Del., and even back to her home turf of Chester County to retrieve a black Vietnamese pot-bellied pig name Arnie.
She's been working at this while shifting out of her life in the corporate world. Davis, who holds a doctorate from Hopkins in neuroscience and nutrition, still puts in one day a week at Medifast, the weight-loss products company based in Owings Mills, where she has worked as vice president of scientific and clinical affairs.
Two years or so ago, she started thinking about pursuing a course that was very different, but hardly out of character. When she mentioned her notion for an animal sanctuary to some of her old friends, she said, "they were all, like, 'we thought you would have been a vet or a farmer.' "
She incorporated the sanctuary in June, and in August it became a nonprofit. A web site went up in the summer, showing ways to "adopt" an animal through donationand offering tours. They're planning an "animal cam" so folks can visit online.
Centuries ago, the farm was part of the enormous estate of the Hammond family, who built the brick manor house in the early 1800s. Five Hammond family members are buried under trees and simple headstones out back.
Davis lives here with her husband, Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin and their 11-year-old daughter, Libby, and Davis' father. It's a big center-hall manse listed on the National Register of Historic Places, with a gate house, smoke house, pool house and finished barn, but room for animals is quickly filling up.
Plenty of room remains left for smaller beasts such as sheep, goats and chickens, but Davis says the grounds are nearing capacity for the larger ones, who need a half to a full acre each.
"Although I am saving space for a cow," she said. "I love cows."
Fennec Fox Kit
This photo single handedly introduced ZooBorns to 500,000 new visitors. Twice as popular as our friend the mouse deer, this <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/fennec-fox/">fennec fox kit</a> from Korea's <a href="http://www.everland.com/htm/MultiLanguage/english/htm/Ev/EvZoo_Ap.htm">Everland Zoo</a>, has since become the ZooBorns' mascot. Photo credit: In Cherl Kim
Lesser Malay Mouse Deer
It's been two years since we shared the <a href="http://www.paigntonzoo.org.uk/">Paignton Zoo's</a> baby mouse deer and we still get comments claiming the post is fake! The lesser Malay mouse deer, a species of chevrotain, is very real, and very small. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/07/its-a-mouse-its-a-deer-its-a-mouse-deer.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Ray Wiltshire / Paignton
Clouded Leopard Cubs
In 2009, these clouded leopard cubs were the first born in 16 years at <a href="http://nationalzoo.si.edu/">Smithsonian National Zoo</a>. Many <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/amur-leopard/">clouded leopard</a> posts later, they are still the most popular of their species. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2009/03/national-zoo-announces-rare-clouded-leopard-birth.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Tracy A. Woodward / The Washington Post
Asian Small-Clawed Otters
Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest <a href="http://zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/otter/">species of otter</a> and also one of the noisiest. In addition to the photo, we couldn't resist posting the video, which incidentally, remains our most popular. Turns out otter pups chirp like birds! <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2009/03/asian-otters-galore.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Jason Collier SeaWorld Orlando
Once plentiful in numbers in the dunes of Israel, the <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/sand-cat/">sand cat</a> has become extinct in the region. This was <a href="http://www.safari.co.il/content.php?id=3">Safari Zoo's</a> first successful sand cat birth, which joined Israel's Sand Cat Breeding Program in order to help reintroduce the species into the wild. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/08/rare-sand-kitten-birth-gives-hope-for-conservation.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Tibor Jager
Prince Harry the <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/hippo/">pygmy hippo</a> at the <a href="http://www.cango.co.za/">Cango Wildlife Ranch</a> was an international superstar who helped raise visibility for the plight of his endangered species. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2012/03/south-africa-welcomes-prince-harry-a-brand-new-pygmy-hippo.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Cango Wildlife Reserve
Rejected by its mother, this tiny <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/dik-dik/">Kirk's dik-dik</a> was hand-raised by keepers at England's <a href="http://www.chesterzoo.org/">Chester Zoo</a> where he apparently assists with light clerical work... Standing just 10 inches tall, the baby is bottle fed five times a day and appears to be doing well. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/01/baby-dik-dik-antelope-chester-zoo.html">Full story.</a> Photo credits: Press Association
Bat-Eared Fox Pup
The <a href="http://www.everland.com/web/">Everland Zoo</a> in Seoul, Korea is always full of surprises and their resident photographer, In Cherl Kim, is always there to capture them. This guy is The Master. Check out his <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridapfe/">Flickr page</a>. These <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/bat-eared-fox/">bat-eared fox</a> pups look like cartoon characters. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/05/a-face-any-mother-would-love.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: In Cherl Kim
Snow Leopard Kitten
One of ZooBorns very first posts, this <a href="http://zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/snow_leopard/">snow leopard</a> kitten born at <a href="http://www.binderparkzoo.org/">Binder Park Zoo</a> also has the honor of being the most popular snow leopard kitten of the many we've showcased over the years. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2008/10/snow-leopard-ki.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Binder Park Zoo
Black Jaguar Baby
ZooBorns fans love shots of mothers and cubs. Here a newborn black <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/jaguar/">jaguar</a> is carried by her mother, named Venus, at the Park of the Legends zoo in Lima. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2009/05/black-jaguar-baby.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: AP Photos/Karel Navarro
Arctic Fox Pup
Arctic <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/fox/">foxes</a> have heavily pigmented eyes, which function like built-in sunglasses, to protect them from the glare of sun on snow. These playful pups were born at <a href="http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/">Aquarium of the Pacific</a> in 2011. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/07/new-arctic-fox-pups-arrive-at-aquarium-of-the-pacific.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Aquarium of the Pacific
Surprising fact: baby <a href="http://zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/otter/">otters</a> actually need to be taught how to swim! Not so surprising fact: the process is obscenely adorable! Watch mom teach her pups at the <a href="http://www.colszoo.org/">Columbus Zoo</a>. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/05/baby-otter-swim-lessons.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Grahm Jones
Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbits
Columbia Basin pygmy <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/rabbit/">rabbits</a> are the world's smallest and among the rarest. Native only to a single area of Washington state, the species was declared extinct in the wild in the '90s, after the remaining 14 bunnies were scooped up and taken into the equivalent of bunny protective custody at <a href="http://www.oregonzoo.org/">Oregon Zoo</a>. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2009/10/columbia-basin-pygmy-rabbits-oregon-zoo-breeding-baby-bunnies.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Michael Durham / Oregon Zoo
North American River Otter
Lethally cute, we dubbed these North American river <a href="http://zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/otter/">otter</a> triplets the "thermonuclear otters." Born at the <a href="http://www.colszoo.org/">Columbus Zoo</a>, the pups remained secluded in the den with mom for the first two months. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/03/otterrageousuly-cute.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Grahm Jones
Pygmy Slow Lorises
Moving slowly through the tree tops and weighing only a pound or less in adulthood, the pygmy slow <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/loris-1/">loris</a> lives up to its name. Random ZooBorns fun fact - slow lorises have been ZooBorns Co-founder Andrew Bleiman's favorite animal since he was 6! <a href="http://www.moodygardens.com/">Moody Gardens</a> announced the rare birth of pygmy slow loris twins in 2010. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/07/rare-pygmy-slow-loris-twins-in-galveston-texas.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Moody Gardens
Just days old in the photo below, this baby <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/anteater/">tamandua</a> was still nameless when we included him in the first ZooBorns kids' book. Apparently he was never named and, to this day, children and moms write in asking us what the critter's name is. Tamandua toddlers like little Nameless here hitch a ride on mom's back for the first part of their life. This baby was born at <a href="http://www.discoverycove.com/">Discovery Cove</a>. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/02/spectacular-baby-anteater-photos-from-discovery-cove.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Photo credits: David Collier / Discovery Cove
At just over one month old, the <a href="http://www.almaparkzoo.com.au/">Alma Park Zoo's</a> baby <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/marmoset/">common marmoset</a> was smaller than a kiwi fruit and enjoyed mugging for the camera. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/06/munching-baby-marmoset-makes-eyes-at-the-camera.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Wei
Baby Sea Otter
Tazo, the orphan <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/sea-otter/">sea otter</a> was rescued by the <a href="http://www.alaskasealife.org/">Alaska SeaLife Center</a> in the summer of 2010. He enjoys socializing with other otters, playing in a tote bag full of ice and toys, and eating clams. We here at ZooBorns remain in awe of the rescue and rehabilitation work performed by the Alaska SeaLife Center, which included orphaned <a href="http://zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/walrus/">walrus</a> calves, sea otters, seals and baby <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/beluga/">belugas</a> among others this year. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/07/double-dose-of-baby-sea-otter.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Alaska SeaLife Center
A relatively recent zoo-born, Beau the <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/echidna/">echidna</a> was brought to the <a href="http://taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo">Taronga Zoo</a> as a 30-day orphan in late October. This unique looking baby, called a puggle, caught even many longtime ZooBorns fans by surprise. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2012/10/meet-beau-the-orphan-echidna-puggle.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Ben Gibson / Taronga Zoo
Polar Bear Cub
Siku was the perfect poster-child (cover child?) for the new book, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1451661614/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=zoob02-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1451661614">ZooBorns: The Next Generation</a></em>, since he A) is shockingly adorable and B) puts an empathetic face on the tremendous challenges posed by climate change like melting sea ice. Zoo's like the <a href="http://www.skandinaviskdyrepark.dk/">Scandinavian Wildlife Park of Djursland's</a> and organizations like <a href="http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/">Polar Bears International</a> are working hard to spread the word and educate the public on how to help. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2012/01/all-eyes-on-siku-the-baby-polar-bear-sensation.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Soren Koch & Himer / Koch Nature Photography
Hoffman's Two-Toed Sloth
Born underweight, this tiny Hoffman's two-toed sloth bounced back thanks to <a href="http://www.rosamondgiffordzoo.org/">Rosamond Gifford Zoo</a> keepers supplanting her nursing with formula. Now Ruth is happy, healthy and as active as <a href="http://zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/sloth/">two-toed sloth</a> ought to be, which is to say, pretty laid back. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2010/10/meet-ruth-the-tiny-baby-sloth-.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Amelia Beamish, Rosamond Gifford Zoo
"Pound" the <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/koala/">koala joey</a> was one of 11 born at <a href="http://www.dreamworld.com.au/">Dreamworld</a> in 2011. He also graced the cover of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1442443715/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=zoob02-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1442443715">ABC ZooBorns</a>, a book for young children. Check out those claws! <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/07/koala-joeys-galore-for-australias-dreamworld.html ">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Australia's Dreamworld / Koala Country Photographics
Honey Badger Cub
Feisty, stubborn, smelly, and adventurous, at 14 weeks old "Badger Girl," the <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/honey-badger/">honey badger cub</a>, exhibited all the trademark charms of her species. A few weeks after sharing this story, the <a href="http://www.jhbzoo.org.za/">Johannesburg Zoo</a> realized Badger Girl was actually a badger boy and shortened his name to BG. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2011/01/meet-badger-girl-a-zooborns-first.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Lorna Fuller / Johannesburg Zoo
Tawny Frogmouth Chicks
Hoover and Sawyer, the two <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/tawny-frogmouth/">tawny frogmouth</a> chicks born at <a href="http://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-orlando">SeaWorld, Orlando</a> made a splash on ZooBorns just three months after we launched. Our first book featured a fennec fox on the cover in the US and six foreign language versions. The exception was the Korean publisher who saw fit to put one of these fluff-balls on the cover. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2009/02/tawny-frogmouth-chicks.html">Full story</a>. Photo credits: Jason Collier, SeaWorld Orlando
ZooBorns innocently entitled this story about a baby sardvark "Naked into the World." To this day the post attracts some very strange Google keyword searches... well, joke's on them. <a href="http://www.detroitzoo.org/">Detroit Zoo's</a> aardvark cub, Amani, was our first and, many <a href="http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/aardvark/">aardvarks</a> later, remains our most popular. <a href="http://www.zooborns.com/zooborns/2008/12/naked-into-the-world-amani-the-baby-aardvark.html">Full story</a>. Photo credit: Mark M. Gaskill - Phoenix Innovate. Taken at the Detroit Zoo