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BROWNINGTON, Vt. — Hamilton the donkey was born during a nighttime storm on July 9 and within hours was more dead than alive. Just another barnyard calamity. Except much was riding on the little equine — belonging to a rare and imperiled French breed known as Baudet du Poitou.

Hamilton’s mother, Quiche, was a Poitou jenny — female donkey — at a Vermont equine rescue center. Dad was a dollop of decades-old frozen Poitou sperm from a French jack, or male donkey. Hamilton was conceived in lab-like conditions at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.

“This was a very special donkey,” said Bari Fischer, a board member at Arnold’s Rescue Center, a 90-acre refuge for displaced donkeys and horses that is Hamilton’s home.

 More at the Boston Globe.