Animal rescue centre forced to rehome animals after bird flu outbreak

An animal rescue centre is having to find new homes for dozens of animals due to an bird flu outbreak.

Wetheriggs Animal Rescue Centre, at Greta Bridge, between Richmond and Barnard Castle, has had to close temporarily after the deadly virus was found in poultry in November.

The centre has already had to cull all its 400 birds, including macaws, finches, parakeets and poultry.

However, it is now having to rehome the rest of its animals due to a lack of funds.

The centre said in a statement: “It’s now been many weeks since the avian flu outbreak, meaning most of our regular revenue streams have now dried up.

“The cull of almost 400 fit ad healthy birds was hard enough for us to take, but then we had to face the task of maintaining the other animals, pay staff, pay rent, pay vet bills etc etc.”

The centre said it managed to survive so far thanks to the generosity of benefactors.

It added: “Since the cull of the birds we have been negotiating with Defra for a way forward — the last thing in the world would have been a cull of all the animals.

“Although the present site has to be closed for a year (this will not affect the other businesses at Thorpe Farm Centre), we would not have lasted a year without any income.

“Now Defra have given permission for the animals to leave the site, with certain conditions attached.

“Our funds are so low we couldn’t contemplate moving to another site lock stock and barrel.

“This means looking for homes for the animals that we have. We are reluctantly having to go down this route while also making sure provision is in place for the rescue work to continue.

“A few of the animals will remain here as we are allowed to use the grazing in the paddocks once the weather gets warmer.”

The animals looking for a new home include horses, sheep, goats, ferrets, hedgehogs and reptiles such as tortoises, snakes and geckos.
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