Britain’s best animal sanctuaries

Liz Barrett tours the country in search of some of the best animal sanctuaries

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Tiggywinkles, Buckinghamshire
Despite the name and association with hedgehogs, Tiggywinkles also caters for badgers, wild birds, foxes, reptiles and amphibians. Tiggywinkles treats an astonishing 10,000 animal casualties every year. It’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and they treat all casualties free of charge. The centre offers you a chance to meet the hedgehogs, and also visit the intriguingly titled world’s-only Hedgehog Memorabillia Museum.
 
The National Seal Sanctuary, Cornwall
Set in the picturesque Helford Estuary, by the beautiful village of Gweek in Cornwall, the sanctuary has resident grey seals, common seals, fur seals, hooded seal, Patagonian and California sea lions, goats, sheep, ponies and otters. At present they’re, literally (see the website), counting down the arrival of a colony of Humboldt penguins, due on Thursday 1 April 2010.

Dartmoor Otters and Buckfast Butterflies, Dartmoor
There’s quite a mixture of species at this sanctuary. You can even spend a morning with the keepers, following the daily routine of the staff, allowing you to get up close with the otters and potentially very mucky in the process.

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The Goat Sanctuary, Cheshire
Started in May 1998, the Alderley-Edge-based santuary is home to around 160 goats, many of whom have been abandoned, mistreated and unwanted. In their new surroundings there’s no shortage of love, with visitors encouraged to spend time cuddling and fussing them. Just don’t wear your best clothes. As the website says, “if it’s an option between hay or your woolly jumper in their mouth, the woolly wins hooves down.”
 
The Farm Animal Sanctuary, Worcestershire
Britain’s first farm animal sanctuary welcomes more than 600 animals and birds rescued from abuse, neglect, slaughter and abandonment. The sanctuary is currently home to 450 sheep, seven cattle, five pigs, 12 horses and ponies and a varied assortment of poultry. Donations can be made on the website.