Miniature horse hoofs it to safety - and into hearts

Leaf, a pet at an eldercare home, standing forlornly on a rooftop in Kurashiki before she was rescued.
Leaf, a pet at an eldercare home, standing forlornly on a rooftop in Kurashiki before she was rescued.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

KURASHIKI (Okayama) • A miniature horse who survived deadly floods by swimming to a rooftop has captured hearts in Japan, as the country tries to recover from record rains that have killed at least 179 people.

Leaf, a nine-year-old horse who had been a pet at an eldercare home in the town of Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture, spent three days stranded on top of a house before she was spotted by aid workers on Monday as floodwaters receded.

Photos of the diminutive tan horse with a blonde mane standing forlornly on the rooftop provided a rare moment of levity after Japan's worst weather-related disaster in more than three decades.

Relief workers "called the fire department asking for help to rescue her, but were told rescuers were tied up saving human lives", said Ms Keiko Takahashi of humanitarian aid group Peace Winds Japan.

Her organisation sent staff to bring down the terrified horse, which had been left to fend for herself and her baby, Earth, by panicked care-home workers evacuating as the floods hit.

"Workers at the care facility had no other choice but to release animals as they had to flee immediately in the face of rapidly rising water," Ms Takahashi told AFP.

Unfortunately, Earth did not survive the floods, but Leaf has been moved to a nearby farm and showered with attention, Ms Takahashi said. The horse has also been reunited with workers at the care home.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 12, 2018, with the headline 'Miniature horse hoofs it to safety - and into hearts'. Print Edition | Subscribe