Britain's The Sun appears to have been embarrassed over its claim that it rescued a donkey forced by its owner to parasail over a beach, with reports emerging that the tabloid "saved" the wrong donkey.
The Sun last month splashed a series of stories about the donkey over its pages, declaring proudly that it had "saved her ass" and showing off pictures of the donkey now residing at one of the Kremlin's "five-star stables". In the spirit of the silly season, it launched a campaign excoriating the donkey's owner.
But Russian newspapers report that the donkey that The Sun purchased, named Anapka, was not the one who had been subjected to the parasailing stunt. Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that the real victim of the stunt was a donkey called Manya, who was still with her owner by the Black Sea.
"[While Anapka] lives it up at the Kremlin riding school, getting hot baths, being rubbed with creams and taken to the solarium, it turns out it's all for nothing," the paper said.
Meanwhile, Manya's owner Vasily Gorobets expressed bemusement at The Sun's story, saying that "Manya's with me and I'm guarding her closely". Gorobets also said that his donkey was "well" and had not been harmed by the stunt.
The Sun paid around 70,000 roubles ($A2,500) to a businessman for the donkey; the man had lent Anapka to Gorobets during the summer, and reportedly told the newspaper that Anapka had been the one pictured while parasailing.