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From Pain In The Ass Herd To Farm Calendar Pin-Up, A Blind Donkey's Holiday Tale

Noldi, an eight-month-old domesticated ass, was born blind on a Swiss farm, and was never accepted by his herd, as he struggled to avoid running into obstacles. Farmers considered putting him down, until an outcry from animal rights groups led to a happy

Gut Aiderbichl is an Austrian sanctuary for animals, including 50 donkeys.
Gut Aiderbichl is an Austrian sanctuary for animals, including 50 donkeys.
Beatrice Zogg

ZURICH - A blind donkey named Noldi is the September 2012 "pin-up" on the new calendar just issued by Gut Aiderbichl, an Austrian animal sanctuary. It is the storybook ending after a near-death experience for the troubled ass, whose cause had been championed by a number of animal conservationists.

The eight-month-old animal had been born blind on the farm of Wagerenhof, a home for the disabled in Uster, Zurich. He was never accepted by the herd and, according to the head of the home Luzius Voigt, was even picked on by the other donkeys. An additional problem was that because he couldn't see, he couldn't recognize obstacles and would run into them. "It irritated and frightened him, and he would take it out by being aggressive," said Voigt.

So home management had two options: look for another place for him to go; or put Noldi down if no suitable place could be found. When word spread that he might be euthanized, the Wagerenhof head received hundreds of e-mails from outraged animal conservationists.

Thanks to a tip he received from a member of the public, Voigt contacted the Gut Aiderbichl animal sanctuary in Henndorf, near Salzburg, Austria. There, on what was formerly a farm, many old animals live out their days. There are also handicapped animals, including a number of blind horses and donkeys. By the end of January, the deal was done, and Noldi left Switzerland for Austria. At his new home he has a padded stall, and a paddock designed especially for blind animals.

"Noldi has assimilated well here and feels at home," says Gut Aiderbichl press spokeswoman Britta Freitag.

He has also made a good friend, a sighted donkey named Mario. Says Freitag: "Mario can see, and he took Noldi under his wing and showed him the whole sanctuary." Indeed, now if you flip to the month of September in the farm's new 2012 calendar, you will see the two new donkey buddies pictured together.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Gut Aiderbichl

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Society

A Closer Look At "The French Roe" And The State Of Abortion Rights In France

In 1972, Marie-Claire Chevalier's trial paved the way for the legalization of abortion in France, much like Roe v. Wade did in the U.S. soon after. But as the Supreme Court overturned this landmark decision on the other side of the Atlantic, where do abortion rights now stand in France?

Lawyer Gisèle Halimi accompanies Marie-Claire Chevalier at the Bobigny trial in 1972.

Lila Paulou

PARIS — When Marie-Claire Chevalier died in January, French newspapers described her role in the struggle for abortion rights as an important part of what’s become the rather distant past. Yet since the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States, Chevalier’s story has returned to the present tense.

A high school student in 1971, Chevalier was raped by a classmate, and faced an unwanted pregnancy. With the help of her mother and three other women, the 16-year-old obtained an abortion, which was illegal in France. With all five women facing arrest, Marie-Claire’s mother Michèle decided to contact French-Tunisian lawyer Gisèle Halimi who had defended an Algerian activist raped and tortured by French soldiers in a high-profile case.

Marie-Claire bravely agreed to turn her trial into a platform for all women prosecuted for seeking an abortion. Major social figures testified on her behalf, from feminist activist Simone de Beauvoir to acclaimed poet Aimé Césaire. The prominent Catholic doctor Paul Milliez, said, “I do not see why us, Catholics, should impose our moral to all French people.”

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