East Devon ‘wildlife hospital’ launches fundraising bid as demand soars since lockdown

East Devon’s only ‘wildlife hospital’ has launched a fundraising appeal after seeing the number of animals it cares for increase fivefold since lockdown.

The couple behind Wild Woodbury say they have been ‘run off their feet’ nursing injured and unwell hedgehogs, bats, birds and other cute critters back to health since March.

Tony Bennett and his wife Claire have gone from caring for one or two creatures a week at the beginning of the year to around ten at any one time.

Tony said: “It’s great that more people are getting out and about in nature and are becoming more aware – but the amount of animals needing our help in East Devon means we’re pretty run off our feet.

“We need extra equipment, such as a microscope, feeding bowls, incubators, and more and better enclosures for the animals.”

East Devon - A hedgehog which was helped by Wild Woodbury.

A hedgehog which was helped by Wild Woodbury.

The care and rehabilitation unit was started in 2016

Tony says hedgehogs, now on the ‘red list’ as an endangered species, are brought in most often.

Many are orphaned by desperate parents that cannot get enough food and water.

They are often dehydrated and covered with parasites, so need treating, watering, feeding-up and a chance to rest before being released back into the wild.

Tony’s top tip for helping all wildlife – especially in the summer – is to put out fresh water every day at ground level.

He added: “We can also do our bit by making sure the creatures are not trapped in our gardens. Holes in fences are very important but hedges are better as they allow free movement.”

East Devon Wild Woodbury

A house Martin at the centre in East Devon.

Tony has urged people not to use herbicides and pesticides as they disrupt the food-chain and make it harder for smaller creatures to survive.

He added: “Recently, we have been looking after a tiny mouse, which we fed for five days every two hours, day and night, which was pretty exhausting.

“Sadly it died in the end. It was incredibly sweet and we were so sad we were not able to see it released.

“We have had nestlings and fledglings, too. We currently have a little house martin we’re nursing back to health.”

Many vets will treat sick wildlife, but Wild Woodbury is the only dedicated care unit of its kind in East Devon.

It hopes to extend its facilities to be able to offer hospital care supported by local vets and volunteers.

There are around five similar centres across Devon with a network of helpers.

East Devon Wild Woodbury

This bat needed a helping hand.

East Devon Wild Woodbury

An unwell mouse was cared for at the centre.

Tony added: “Yes, there is somewhere in East Devon to call on if you find an injured or sick wild animal.

“Please help us help more local wildlife by donating even a small amount to our fundraising campaign

“Please support wildlife near you by leaving out ground level water, leaving gaps in your fences, abandoning chemicals and providing more habitat for wildlife.”

You can support Wild Woodbury’s fundraising bid here.

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