'Dr Doolittle' takes in stray calf and family

2015-08-06 14:29
Ferdinand the calf with his mother and aunt in the trailer on the way to their new home in Ottery. (Supplied, SPCA)

Ferdinand the calf with his mother and aunt in the trailer on the way to their new home in Ottery. (Supplied, SPCA)

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Cape Town - Ferdinand the calf was born in an SPCA farmyard and, unlike his mom and ‘aunt’, has never seen rolling green fields.

That changed this week when 38-year-old Mark McElhone took Ferdinand and his rescued family to his sprawling vegetable farm in Ottery.

The energetic calf quickly took to his new surroundings and was already making friends.

“I have got another three cows with two calves, so the small one [Ferdinand] is playing a lot with them,” the farmer said on Thursday.

Ferdinand was born a month ago. His mother and five other jersey cows were found trespassing on a farm in Eerste River and brought to the SPCA in Grassy Park a few days before its birth.

A social media user suggested that the SPCA call the tiny one ‘Ferdinand’, after the bull in a children’s book who preferred to smell flowers instead of take part in bull fights.

The cows were put up for adoption because their owner failed to come forward.

Their new owner, who has adopted before, heard about the cattle from someone at the SPCA and came in to have a look. It seems they will be in good hands.

McElhone’s wife Lize calls him Dr Dolittle, after the fictional character who could speak to animals. She says he names them all and skips out on a sleep-in so he can care for them.

Every day, he spends between two and three hours a day with his charges. He feeds them and takes them out to the field.

“We love animals. There are about 250 animals in total here - chickens, ostriches, donkeys, horses, ducks, you name it,” McElhone said.

He believes they have their own personalities and spends time getting to know them.

“Twice a day, I sit with them and look at what they are doing. You can pick up very quickly if something is wrong, because the sick ones will sit down or stand to one side.”

One of his horses always had to be fed first because he would bite the others if they were fed at the same time. About a month ago, McElhone noted that he wasn’t eating.

He tried two different feeds but the horse’s appetite did not pick up. The horse ended up at the vet and he had colic.

“You have to be with your animals to pick these things up.”

Mark McElhone on his farm in Ottery. (Supplied)

Read more on:    cape town  |  animals

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