Our history

From humble beginnings as a hospital for ex-warhorses in 1934, Brooke is now the leading global welfare charity for working horses, donkeys and mules.

Horses, donkeys and mules fought like heroes in WW1, side by side with millions of soldiers. Over eight million equines fell during the war and without them the outcome could have been very different. 

On arrival in Egypt in 1930, Dorothy Brooke was determined to find the surviving ex-warhorses of the British, Australian and American forces. These brave and noble horses were sold into a life of hard labour in Cairo when conflict ended.

Searching for them throughout Cairo, Dorothy was appalled to find hundreds of emaciated and worn-out animals desperately in need of help. She wrote a letter to the Morning Post (which later became the Daily Telegraph) exposing their plight.

Dorothy Brooke was determined to find the surviving ex-warhorses of the British, Australian and American forces.

The public were so moved they sent her the equivalent of £20,000 in today's money to help end the suffering of these once proud horses.

Within three years, Dorothy Brooke had purchased five thousand ex-warhorses. Most were old, exhausted and had to be humanely put down. But thanks to her compassion, they ended their lives peacefully.

Dorothy Brooke knew thousands of hard working horses, donkeys and mules still suffered so in 1934 she founded the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo, with the promise of free veterinary care for all the city’s working horses and donkeys. The Brooke Hospital for Animals was born.

The early years - forging a tradition
Man outside Brooke Cairo hospital

1930 Dorothy Brooke arrives in Cairo, Egypt with her husband, a Major General in the British army.

1931 Dorothy Brooke writes a letter to The Morning Post to urge the British public to help relieve the suffering of thousands of ex-war horses she encounters in Cairo.

1934 The Brooke Hospital for animals is established in Egypt.

1938 The first shade shelter and water troughs are established in Cairo. First motorised ambulance starts to operate.

Decades of change - continuing care

1961 Alexandria clinic opens in Egypt

1966 Luxor clinic opens, Egypt

1984 The first best horse competition begins in Luxor

1988 Jordan clinic opens (Wadi Musa - Petra)

1988 Aswan clinic opens, Egypt

1991 Brooke expands into Pakistan

1992 Mobile teams begin operating in India

1992 Edfu clinic opens, Egypt

1994 Brooke Netherlands begins to raise money

2000 Mersa Matrouh clinic opens, Egypt

Today - reaching out

2001 Partnership programmes begin in Kenya

2002 Groundbreaking research programme begins with Bristol University Veterinary School

2003 Partnership programme begins in Afghanistan

2004 Brooke launches partnership programme in Guatemala


  • Brooke carries out relief work with Mercy Corps, after the earthquake strikes in Pakistan. 
  • Partnership programme established in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Palestinian villages in Israel and the West Bank)


  • Brooke expands into Ethiopia
  • National Donkey Welfare Day is established in Kenya


  • Partnership programme begins in Nepal
  • American Friends of the Brooke is established

2010 Brooke expands into Senegal

2013 A pilot project begins in Nicaragua



  • Brooke opens new project in Mexico
  • Brooke closes Jordan office and handover responsibility to the government. 
  • Invisible workers report, linking workers with the livelihoods of people, published.  
  • Brooke USA re-launched with support from the Brooke President, HRH the Duchess of Cornwall


  • Brooke launches new five-year global strategy with a goal of making a lasting change to working horses, donkeys and mules in the most need across the world. 
  • Brooke achieves its goal of reaching two million working horses, donkeys and mules

Learn about War Horses