The Sun has reprised a great Fleet Street summer tradition – saving an abused foreign donkey.
Sun readers were outraged on Wednesday after reading of a donkey who was suspended by parachute 125ft in the air to provide publicity for a Russian beach.
The Sun has since tracked down the owner of the animal, which is named Anapka, taken custody of her and assured readers that “she will never be forced to parasail again”.
Russian stringer Anna Shlyakhtenko has been feeding the grateful donkey apples, cucumbers and sweetcorn, the paper reports (in a story which was print-only at time of writing).
The tale brings back memories of Blackie, the most famous donkey to be saved by Fleet Street.
In 1987, Blackie was picked by the residents of a Spanish village to take part in an obscure fiesta which involved him being dragged through the streets and beaten.
The story goes that The Sun dispatched Hugh Whittow – while the Daily Star sent Don Mackay – to save the beast.
Whittow secured the buy-up, but foolishly put Blackie out to pasture for the night. Mackay took the opportunity to snatch an exclusive rescue for the Daily Star.
The Sun provides a somewhat edited version of that story for its readers today, noting that Blackie lived out his days in a donkey sanctuary in Devon.
Tom Hill has an entertaining account of the escapade on his blog at Up To Speed Journalism Training.
He recounts: “The Daily Star headline, read GOTCHA! and the front page showed a picture of Blackie and the receipt they had been given by a Spanish farmer who can scarcely have believed his luck.
“The Sun tried running spoiler stories alleging that it was cruel to remove Blackie from all his donkey friends in Spain, but the Star hit back wheeling out legendary animal experts such as Johnny Morris to say that the little donkey would be happy in Devon.
“On the day Blackie arrived in Dover, the Sun arranged its own welcoming party featuring a female donkey called Coco, but the five year old filly was snubbed. Once again the Star hit back, this time revealing that Coco was actually a he.”