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Wild bird sanctuary and rescue centre seeking support as income plummets

PUBLISHED: 07:01 07 May 2020

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary cares for a range of wild birds Picture: STONHAM BARNS

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary cares for a range of wild birds Picture: STONHAM BARNS

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A much-loved Suffolk attraction and bird rescue centre has launched an urgent appeal for support after seeing its income from visitors wiped out by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, at Stonham Barns in Stonham Aspal, is currently closed to the public as government restrictions prevent the centre from welcoming visitors.

This has prompted the sanctuary, which partly relies on gate receipts to continue operating, to seek donations online as it continues to care for wild birds throughout the crisis.

Managing director Chris Astridge said: “We run all year round and a lot of our revenue comes from people coming through the door, which has been cut off.

“We’re under no illusions that things will go back to normal soon. We’re using all of our resources to keep the sanctuary running.”

The sanctuary initially began life in 1995, but registered as a charity under its current name in 2001.

It currently cares for around 80 wild birds, such as owls, falcons and eagles, and operates a hospital for injured and traumatised creatures.

The hospital frequently takes in birds in need of treatment before releasing them into the wild when they have recovered.

Visitor numbers to the sanctuary typically begin to rise in Easter, with money taken during this period used to maintain operations all year round.

In an attempt to keep a steady income, the sanctuary has launched an appeal on its website for would-be visitors to contribute what they can towards the cause.

Mr Astridge said he and his team are doing “everything possible” to keep the centre’s vital facilities running during the lockdown and have thanked everyone who has donated so far.

He added: “We don’t know how long this will go on for. It might be two to three months before we can get back to normal.

“The season normally starts at Easter and runs until September, but we have to keep all aspects of what we do going throughout the year.

“When we do reopen it will be for small groups only.

“Every little contribution is helping, no matter how small. We’ve been here 25 years and don’t plan to close.”

MORE: Rescue centre says ‘chunky’ owl was too fat to fly


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