Starting an exotic animal sanctuary here in UK! - Reptile Forums

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 27-08-2017, 12:45 AM
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 1
Exclamation Starting an exotic animal sanctuary here in UK!

Hi everyone,

I'm new to the forum and want to start my own exotic and wild animal rescue/sanctuary here in the uk. Me and a few friends have started a couple businesses already and want to start something which benefits our planet and all the beautiful animals on it. I'm 23 but have a lot of passion and drive to get animals the justice they need, to try and rehome as many animals as we can. To stop further damage to our planet, animals and their habitats. I was wondering how i'd go about starting this?
I have tried to e-mail and contact a few people but they don't want to help me.
Any information and so on, would be highly appreciated!
thank you!
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 27-08-2017, 07:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 16,295

Have you got a huge pot of savings between you and very healthy bank accounts?
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 27-08-2017, 10:14 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Chester, UK
Posts: 492

As Stephen P suggested you plan isn't going to be cheap. Especially depending on what species you want to "rescue".

First thing I would suggest is to think about what species you will and will not accept. Ask your local council if there are any regulations you need to be aware of on which ones you can rescue, look at DEFRA as well. As an example is it illegal in the EU, buying, selling, breeding and rescuing any species listed on the Invasive species list is illegal (Invasive Alien Species - Environment - European Commission) such as Red-Earred Terrapins. One thing you should know from the out set is that you cannot rescue every animal in need, do not over stretch yourself and let things go out of control.

So you know what species you want to rescue, whether it be mammals, birds, reptile or what ever. You need to be up to scratch on care on all species you want to take in, best way to do that would be to talk to reputable rescues who currently take in that animals or maybe zoological institutes if you can get contact. Keep in mind you will need to factor in all the costs; Rent? Heating? Water? Insurance? Security? Tax? Staffing Costs? Cleaning Costs? Emergency Fund? Take into account how much space each species will actually need and whether you can actually keep the species in your care?

Will the animals stay with you to live out their entire life? Will you be 100% you can feed and house them for their entire life? Note a baby tortoise should live for decades. If you aren't going to house them their entire life, where are they going to go? Are you going to have sell them/give them away? Are you going to ensure they will get all the care for them in their new homes? Will the council require any regulations if you are going to sell animals?

Will any of the animals you will take in require Article 50 paperwork? You will probably have to look into the CITIES paperwork and regulations to make sure you don't fall into any issues. What about any animals that are considered dangerous? You will have to get a DWA license and deal with insurance and vet costs associated. Will you guys have a dedicated vet if not why?

Will you be opening up your sanctuary to the public? If that is the case you might need to look into getting a zoo license, again contact your council about this. and again costs will go up and you will have to deal with more insurance.

If you look at how many staff will you need. How many animal keepers will you need? Will you need any plumbers/electricians and handymans? Will you need anyone to deal with admin work? Will you need anyone to deal with food buying?

What if an animals dies in your care, how far will you go to investigate its death?

There are 100s of things you need to be aware of. One person cannot tell you everything. Not to put you off but it is a massive project and you need to do tonnes of research on lots of topics. You will need a lot of money to get it set up and run. It is a bigger project then you imagine.
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Old 31-08-2017, 01:21 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Cramlington, N'land
Posts: 31,909

Any kind of rescue is a money pit, so you need a LOT of money before you even start cos a nominal amount won't last you 5 minutes and you need time to start fundraising etc.

I volunteered at a local wildlife sanctuary which started in 1993. Within 10 years they were struggling financially, even with 2 main street charity shops in 2 reasonably large local towns and a decent database of adopters of their permanent residents who couldn't be released and a large open day every year that brought a large lump sum in.

So they had reached the point where they thought they had to either refuse to take any more casualties/rehomes in, or get funding to open to the public and get more money in that way. They chose the second option and my boss applied for grants from all sorts of places, raising a huge amount that allowed them to build on their land and in October 2004 they opened to the public. The first year made a loss, the second one a very small profit, but it meant they could continue to take in wildlife casualties and some farm and domestic rehomes. However, when the recession hit, things got worse - and worse until in the end by 2010-2011 they were in dire straits. They'd kept it open by remortgaging their house, but but by 2013 they had no choice but to refuse to take in any more casualties as they could barely afford to feed their residents and have now had to diversify by converting their barn and shop/tearoom into self catering holiday homes to bring in an income to feed their resident animals. They've had nothing but financial worry for the last 8 years and it has really taken its toll on their mental state (both were on anti-depressants for quite a while) and all the joy in the work they were doing had gone. So you know what they would tell you if you asked for any advice!!!

So my advice would be before you even start:

1) Learn to say "no" because people will dump on you big time with their unwanted pets - in some cases even when you say "no" you'll get up the next morning to find something abandoned at your gate - happened to us ALL THE TIME!!

2) Make sure you have a decent lump sum to start you off.

3) Set yourself up with a means of fundraising so you have some sort of regular supply of money coming in.

and I think most importantly

4) Set yourself a limit of how many animals you can have in your care at any one time and don't exceed that limit - one rehomes, then you can take one more in - because if you don't you will be inundated and struggling in no time.

I'm sorry if this isn't what you want to hear, but over the last 12 years my bosses have become my very good friends and I've watched the total deterioration of their life - and to some extent their personalities - from close quarters and it wasn't good. Especially when they were doing something so totally unselfish and altruistic.

Volunteer - The Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre

Website: .
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