If we told you that rescuers from Animal Aid Unlimited had received a call about an animal trapped in a septic tank, you may not at first think this to be anything out of the ordinary. But seeing what was inside the tiny hole was like looking at something out of a surrealist painting. After all, how did this massive creature get down there? And, more to the point, how were the rescue team going to get him out?
Fortunately, in August 2016 Animal Aid Unlimited (AAU) uploaded a video of the resulting rescue to its website – and YouTube – and it drew the attention of internet users around the world. This is perhaps not surprising, though, when you consider that the troubled creature was almost impossibly out of place.
Still, the animal rescue group has seen plenty of strange things in its time. After all, AAU was set up in 2002 and is based in Udaipur, India. It has the resources to rescue and treat injured creatures and describes itself as “a life-changing place for both people and animals.”
AAU also has an animal outreach education program. Furthermore, its website states, “Our mission is to rescue and treat the unowned street animals of Udaipur who have become ill or injured, and through their rescue inspire a community to protect and defend the lives of all animals.”
Mind you, even with the group’s experience in dealing with animals in sticky situations, when rescuers answered this specific call to action they were more than a little surprised. Nevertheless, they soon entered the basement of a house, where something had gotten stuck under the concrete.
The ditch underneath the cement was a septic tank, a miniaturized sewage system for disposing of waste materials. The only access to it was a small square hole, and, even though the team had already been told what they’d find inside, it had to be seen to be believed.
“We got a call that a donkey was trapped in a septic tank under a house,” AAU’s website later explained. “We have no idea how a donkey could have gotten in this tiny hole.” The most incredible thing was that the access point was no bigger than a computer screen.
“We found [the] terrified donkey inside the tank standing chest-deep in filthy, cold sewage water. We can only guess that he may have been fighting with another donkey and in the commotion slipped and fell in the hole,” the website reported.
So, even if the AAU team could reach the donkey, the hole was definitely too small to fit him back through safely. Therefore, they tried – to no avail – using a pickaxe to widen the entry. But time was of the essence for the animal, and something had to be done soon.
Indeed, rescuers could only guess that the donkey had been trapped down there for 24 hours. What’s more, the poor thing would be under sewage if he lay down, and he had to keep on his feet to avoid sinking under the fetid water.
Plus, the donkey was obviously thirsty since he was drinking dirty runoff. “We cannot fathom the fear and despair he must have felt being unable to cry for help and thinking that he was never going to get out,” AAU said.
Since attempts to widen the hole with pickaxes were a bust, the rescue team had to use something a bit more heavy-duty: a jackhammer. Unfortunately, they couldn’t find anyone who knew how to use one properly, but the thought of the distressed donkey spurred them on.
“Because an actual jackhammer operator was not available on short notice, our rescue team had to operate the hammer ourselves despite never having used the machine before,” AAU wrote. “It was difficult to operate, but knowing who was patiently waiting underneath made the work seem easy.”
However, even with such a powerful tool, it took the rescuers hours to widen the tiny gap enough to fit a donkey or a human. But with the helpless creature relying on their aid, the group pushed forward and eventually made the hole accessible. Then a couple of team members climbed down to help the animal.
Of course, the donkey’s lower half was soaked, and the animal was freezing. “Once the hole was widened, our rescuers Deendayal and Ganpat descended into the sewage and wrapped blankets around the donkey,” AAU’s website reported.
So all that was left was to get the donkey out of the hole. In order to do this, then, the other rescuers, back up on street-level, had dropped ropes down to secure their patient. “With a ONE, TWO, THREE, we lifted him up successfully,” said AAU.
The poor animal looked exhausted but was otherwise apparently unharmed – and presumably very happy to be out of his hole. Then, after he’d had a little rest and some much-needed affection from the AAU team, they picked him up and took him away from his prison.
Since their patient had been standing up for at least 24 hours straight, the AAU guys gave him the royal treatment and carried him right into the ambulance. They then drove him straight to their headquarters for some much-needed rest and recuperation.
And while getting stuck in the hole might have made him feel like a bit of an ass, the donkey looked well when he was taken back to AAU’s sanctuary, where he received lots of attention from staff members. “He was so happy to be free! He rolled, ate, ran, played and enjoyed cuddles with his rescuers,” AAU added.
To date, the donkey’s rescue video has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube, and the team has been naturally showered with compliments for their efforts. Of course, those efforts are ongoing, too, and you can find out more about Animal Aid Unlimited’s tireless work to rescue street animals by visiting its website.