Bird sanctuary searches for a new home

PUBLISHED: 11:00 22 June 2013

Darren with his Daughter Jade and owls Nyra and Eowyn

Darren with his Daughter Jade and owls Nyra and Eowyn

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A FAMILY in Winscombe are desperate to find a new home for the bird sanctuary in their back garden.

The Avon Owl Sanctuary houses 29 birds of prey in the Jenkins’ family garden in Homefield Close, but is in need of a bigger space.

The family also need to raise £5,000 to keep the struggling not-for-profit business open - and warn the birds could have to be put down if a new site cannot be found.

The sanctuary opened in 2011 and is run by Darren Jenkins, aged 42, his wife Julia, 45, and 17-year-old Jade and Joshua, 12. The centre is also helped by eight volunteers.

The family run education days for schools, as well as visiting nursing homes and dementia care homes.

Although none of the owls were hurt, the sanctuary lost its savings when they were hit by floods last November.

But, due to the growing size of the sanctuary, the landlord has asked them to relocate the birds.

Darren said: “We have to be out by the end of September and need help to get us up and running and open to the public. Right now we are running in the red after buying materials to build new aviaries for the move.

“We lost £3,000 after the floods, which was a bit of a financial kick in the teeth.

“I’m praying we make enough money, but then all we desperately need is a piece of land.

“All we need is half an acre of land, about half the size of a football pitch.

“If we cannot find somewhere before September, the birds will have to be sold or euthanised.”

The sanctuary originally began as a hobby when Darren was discharged from the Army after developing asthma.

Now he has knee and back problems, and hopes to pass on the sanctuary to his daughter after she finishes college.

Darren believes the sanctuary is not just important to his family but to the whole community.

Darren said: “We work mostly with primary school kids, and some of them from the city have never heard or rarely seen an owl, so we teach them what the different sounds mean and show them where to look.

“But when we go to the customers we are limited as to what we can bring, so we want to build an educational facility where schools can come to us.”

Darren hopes if they can raise enough money before moving to the new area, they will be able to keep the price low for visitors.

To sponsor the sanctuary or offer land, contact Darren on 07909 160554, or email info@avonowls.co.uk

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