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Animal Charity Faces Fight For Survival

A charity which operates one of the most popular visitor centres in the North East of England faces a fight for its very survival. Wetheriggs Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre based within the Thorpe Farm Centre Complex on the A66, almost on the County Durham- North Yorkshire border, is today appealing for support from The Public and DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to find a safe way through the restrictions imposed during the recent Avian Flu outbreak.


Avian Flu has decimated the wild bird population in the UK over recent years, each year becoming worse then the year before. Every autumn migrating flocks of birds travelling from Scandinavia and Russia to their wintering grounds south of us bring with them this virulent. The wetlands on the A66 being the perfect refuelling stop on migration for numerous species of Geese and Swans.


In the national news you will have seen that this virus, which affects all bird species, is also now rampant within our captive bird population, in particular hitting poultry flocks. Seasonally thousands upon thousands of Turkeys have either died of have been culled.


As a precaution, along with many other rescue centres, Wetheriggs temporarily stopped taking in wild bird casualties and visitors were asked to walk over disinfected mats. These measures were implemented so that the Wetheriggs's birds would be safeguarded from the virus. But then the worst happened, a relatively small number of the birds at Wetheriggs exhibited symptoms of this nasty disease, DEFRA were called in and almost four hundred fit birds, showing no signs of the virus were euthanised. This was the worst day in the almost 19 year history of the Rescue Centre.


The risk to humans from Avian Flu is very small but as a precaution we had to close our doors to the public as required under the restrictions imposed on us. As it stands this could last for as long as a year.

The Centre is also home to numerous types of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Almost all of the revenue used to feed and maintain the approximately 500 remaining animals comes from the centre opening as a visitor attraction.


This is the third blow in a trilogy of disasters to hit the rescue centre over the last few years; like everyone in Britain "COVID" then THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS with RISING COSTS, NOW THIS! 


As a spokesperson for Wetheriggs Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre I would like to make a double appeal:


  • Firstly to Friends, Supporters and The General Public for funds to feed and maintain our remaining animals. 

  • Secondly to DEFRA for them to help us plan a way forward through this horrendous time.


The Rescue Centre has rented its present site from Thorpe Farm and has done so for over 8 years having moved from the historic pottery site near Penrith from which it got the name "Wetheriggs", the Penrith location was outgrown after ten years.


The charity has four employees and over 60 volunteers. As well as able bodied volunteers, volunteers from other


sections of society enjoy the non confrontational atmosphere. Volunteers with various social, mental and physical needs work alongside students, work experience volunteers and Duke of Edinburgh Candidates forging unique bonds, friendships between people and animals alike.


Please donate by accessing the Donate Page 




If you donate or can't donate during these difficult times please share this with your friends and relatives.


Can you also forward this to your local MP, your Local Counsellor and Therese Coffey (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).


Thank You For Your Help,

Terry Bowes

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