In a quiet corner of Somerset, UK, thereâ€™s a wonderful place where volunteers come together to do all they can to save the lives of local wildlife that have fallen foul to the many dangers of the modern world.
Usually Secret World Wildlife Rescue, based in Highbridge, is closed to the public â€“ unless youâ€™re bringing in a rescued animal, of course â€“ but for just a few days every year it opens up its doors to allow you to get up close and personal to the wonderful animals it cares for, and to spread the word about its work.
The charity operates a 24-hour rescue service that covers the south west of the UK and often even further afield. Over 5,000 animals come through its doors each year, and the volunteers have taken in everything from badgers, hedgehogs and foxes through to swans, kestrels and even a racoon!
Secret World open weekends
Secret Worldâ€™s open days give the public a chance to see creatures that you rarely get a chance to see close up in the wild. With several themed open weekends throughout the year, I went along to the Badger Bonanza event as, sadly, the only badgers Iâ€™d ever seen were by the side of country roads, and wanted to remedy that.
Meeting all the animals
During the open days you can wander around the grounds and visit all the pens and enclosures, where youâ€™ll see some of the current visitors as well as the long term residents of the sanctuary (several owls have made Secret World their retirement home for example). There are also craft stalls to explore, and throughout the day there are some wonderful events that take place, many of which are educational as well as fun.
During my visit I got to listen to a talk about hedgehogs and see a few of the sleepy chaps up close, but there was also a chance to really get to know the charityâ€™s foxes, owls and even watch ferrets race.
Of course, the highlight for me was getting to see some baby badgers and hear about the charityâ€™s conservation efforts to help these beautiful creatures. They brought several of the little ones out for people to say hello to, but were keen to highlight they it was â€˜look and not touchâ€™, as they raise the orphaned badgers with as little human contact as possible so that they can be returned to the wild.
These special events are great for family days out in Somerset but animal lovers of all ages will get a real kick from getting close to these gorgeous creatures, as well as hopefully coming away from the day with a better understanding of the problems they face and things they can do to help. This autumn we plan to build a hedgehog house and put out hedgehog friendly food in the hope that weâ€™ll get more of these little visitors into our garden.
Free to attend, all the charity asks is that you provide a donation to support its work if you can, which will go towards the care work, rescues, utilities, vehicles food and veterinary care that the injured animals need. Thereâ€™s also a little gift shop, with pictures up of celebrities that support the charity and if Secret Worldâ€™s got Benedict Cumberbatchâ€™s backing, then theyâ€™re good by me!
Secret World Wildlife Rescue is based in Highbridge, Somerset. Find out more about the charity and itâ€™s open days at http://www.secretworld.org/.