Animal Healing in Egypt by Elizabeth Whiter MHAO MNFSH IIZ ITEC Dip.WSA
No sooner had I unpacked my bags from my animal healing trip in Japan than I was preparing to travel to Egypt to work at ACE animal care unit, an equine and donkey hospital set up by Kim Taylor some 12 years ago. Horrified by the condition of the working animals whilst on an initial holiday from the UK she vowed she would return to Egypt and set up an animal hospital; her goal to relieve and prevent the suffering of animals in Egypt.
95% of the world’s equids are living and working in the developing world, the majority in very harsh conditions, and mostly without any veterinary care whatsoever. Consequently, helping to maintain the health of working horses and donkeys is a humanitarian as well as an animal welfare concern.
Kim and her husband dedicate every working hour to the hospital. Living close by Kim and her team of Egyptian vets attend to donkeys, horses, and the cats and dogs that turn up at the hospital gates daily. Kim is a keen supporter of holistic veterinary services; complete with rehabilitation and good animal husbandry skills. However many of these animals are merely seen as a commodity and most farmers can barely feed themselves as they depend heavily on their working animals for their meagre income. ACE invites farmers and carriage drivers to bring their animals to be treated for free.
Teamwork is paramount at ACE and I felt very privileged to be working side by side with a team of in-house and visiting international vets, harness fitters and volunteers. Each day I worked at inpatient and the outpatient units, offering healing and nutritional support to donkeys, horses, dogs and cats and assisting the vets with their daily duties.
Vets, doctors and the healing fraternity are all in agreement that homeostasis, the maintenance of dynamic energy balance is key to healing. One of the greatest healers is the body itself for us and animals. This, coupled with care, love, the intention to heal, good nutrition, and trust is key to this process. Fortunately the hospital is equipped with 25 stables and many donkeys and horses are able to unwind and have an opportunity to heal properly with after-care rehabilitation.
Each morning the vet and I would discuss in-patients and courses of action. After receiving consent to give healing I set off to work with individual donkeys and horses.
Because I am qualified in Zoopharmacognosy when I travel throughout the world to offer healing to animal sanctuaries I also identify and locate local plant material that animals can utilise to nourish themselves. Developing countries have difficulty in finding funds to pay for nutraceuticals for animals so this is a wonderful opportunity to educate local communities in the health benefits of culinary herbs and plants that they can forage for cheaply. When I leave a sanctuary to return to the UK it is paramount that the knowledge is not lost, so I train vets and sanctuary managers to cultivate and use the plants themselves.
Whilst I was working at the hospital I conducted a field study for ACE with fourteen donkeys and horses and focused on locally grown plants. One of the plants, Hibiscus Hibiscus sabdarrifa is widely drunk by the locals as a refreshing tea. Nobody had considered its benefits to donkeys and horses. In Egypt, Hibiscus is known for its extremely high content of antioxidants (mainly flavonoids), and a rich source of Vitamin C. There have been numerous scientific trials on the health benefits of hibiscus tea to include lowering blood pressure and stress levels.
A great deal of my work is observing animals, and it was wonderful to see some of the donkeys and horses self-selecting the dried hibiscus flowers and some who were not interested at all. The Egyptian vets were amazed by the results and considered the dried hibiscus flower to be a complementary equine feed, particularly for those who were malnourished and weak.
This trip has paved the way for some of my equine healing students and graduates to join me and volunteer their services at the hospital. It was such a humbling experience to witness the sheer dedication of the staff and to pay tribute to the thousands of horses and donkeys that need our love and support. If you are interested in volunteering overseas or would like to receive a prospectus for the Diploma in Animal Healing please contact us
For information on ACE visit www.ace-egypt.org.uk
I wrote this article upon my return from Ace Egypt for The Healing Trust magazine InTouch – February 2012 issue.