Thursday, September 6, 2007
Meet Tootsie - a hermaphrodite pony who lived for 12 years with his owners thinking he was female.
Tootsie the hermaphrodite pony
For most of his life the Shetland pony, who has both male and female genitalia, was thought to be a mare and went by the name of Amy.
And to add to his confusion he has been taken into care, undergone a sex change operation and been re-homed - only to be shunned by his peers.
But now Tootsie - named after Dustin Hoffman's cross-dressing character in the film of the same name - finally appears to be settling in at the Bransby Home of Rest for Horses, near Lincoln.
And he has found an unlikely friend - in stablemate Derek the donkey.
Verity Chappell, welfare manager at Bransby, said the other animals at the sanctuary had not been very tolerant of the exotic new arrival.
'He doesn't seem to know what he is.
'I think behaviourally he is not sure and the other animals seemed to have an issue with him,' she said.
'Before they even touched him, we noticed they flapped their ears back, which is a sign they don't like someone, as if to say "you're not normal".
'We knew we were going to have to pair him with another animal.
'He seems to have settled in with a little donkey called Derek.
'To begin with there was a little animosity, but he will remain with Derek now for the rest of his life.'
The Shetland, who lived with a family for all his life, was only found to be different when he was taken in by the RSPCA. Vets are now carrying out blood tests to check Tootsie's chromosome levels and determine his exact sex.
Despite his upbringing as a mare, Tootsie still has an eye for the ladies.
Peter Hunt, who founded the animal rest home 40 years ago, said: 'I am 75 years of age and this is the first I have ever seen.
'He still squeals and gets excited by mares. He is full of life in that department. If he could get near them he would be a bit of a nuisance.'
We eagerly await the heartwarming film version of Tootsie and Derek's story.
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