MAN’S best friend may be a dog, but it seems a boy’s best friend is rather more exotic.
For nine-year-old Stefan Pettersson has found a new chum this summer in the form of a skunk called Gizmo.
The pair have become inseparable since five-year-old Gizmo joined the residents at The Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre in Ulgham, which is run by Stefan’s parents Kim Olson and Allan Pettersson.
And his furry friend is proving a perfect pet for the youngster, who is allergic to all of the other Sanctuary residents and also has allergies to cats, horses, rabbits, donkeys, hay, straw and corn.
He said: “I love Gizmo because he is so gentle, easy to handle and cuddle, but best of all, he is the only animal at The Sanctuary I am not allergic to.”
The skunk was a much-loved pet and had been well cared for, but his Blyth owner could no longer keep him due to a change of circumstances.
He has had his scent glands removed so cannot spray his new friend and he is settling into his new home, enjoying Spanish omelettes for breakfast and dinner every day, as well as apples and bananas, and of course delicious mealworms.
The Sanctuary is open every day during the school holidays, including the Bank Holiday weekend, so visitors will be able to meet the new resident.
And it is a case of the more the merrier as the centre is in desperate need of support to see it through the winter months.
In fact, the situation is so uncertain that it is no longer able to accept any new animal casualties to add to the some 180 creatures in its care.
Ms Olson said: “We hope all animal lovers will come and visit The Sanctuary and meet all of the animals in care at the centre as we desperately need to raise the funds now in the summer to keep The Sanctuary going over the winter months.
“We are even more worried about this winter as the awful wet weather this summer has seen a fall in our visitor numbers as it has simply rained so much lately and our funds are lower than normal.
“If we get another winter with all the snow we have had in the past two winters, our feed and hay and straw bills will be huge and we have nothing in reserve for this so we need visitors to support The Sanctuary and keep it open for as long as possible.”
In addition to school holiday opening, the centre will also hold its annual autumn open day on Saturday, September 10, from 11am to 3pm.
The event aims to raise funds and supporters are being asked to make cakes or jam, or donate unwanted books and toys, to sell, as well as donate tins of pet food and animal feed for ponies, donkeys, goats and rabbits. Entry to the open day is by donation.
For more information visit www.wildlife-sanctuary.co.uk