A PLEA has gone out: Adopt a pit pony!
The National Coal Mining Museum wants people to 'adopt' their ponies for Christmas.
And staff hope the money that comes in will help care for the hardworking ponies in their retirement.
The museum, near Grange Moor, is home to three retired pit ponies and one shire horse.
A fourth pit pony, Carl, died in October at the age of 29, after 12 years at the museum.
The remaining ponies are very popular with the thousands of visitors.
Sparky is an amazing 35 years old and has been at the museum since 1988.
He spent 13 years working underground at the former Ellington Colliery in County Durham, which is now a mining museum itself.
Robbie worked in North Wales and was the last pony out of his mine in 1999.
The third pony is Patch, something of a celebrity.
He worked in South Wales and took part in the All The Queen's Horses event at Windsor in 2002 to mark the Queen's golden jubilee.
Liz Orme, of the museum, said: "For just £12.50 an adoption can be taken out for the pony of your choice for one year.
"Adopters will receive a personalised adoption certificate, colour photo, pony factsheet, and a Pit Pony Appeal pin badge. It costs the museum almost £2,000 per year to care for the animals and ensure their retirement is happy and carefree.
"The pit ponies are an extremely popular part of the museum team and have been living there for many years."
The museum has a team of dedicated horsekeepers - so adopters will not be expected to muck out!
Anyone interested in adopting one of these ponies should contact Liz on 01924 848533.