Animal centre is to celebrate 21 years of creature care

The region’s largest animal sanctuary is marking 21 years of rescue work — and everyone is invited to join the celebration.

The Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre in Ulgham was set up by Allan Pettersson and his wife Kim Olson almost by accident when they returned to the North East after working with wildlife in Africa.

It began when they took in a gull with a broken wing, but when a seabird disaster struck around the same time and word spread of their animal expertise, they soon had 75 birds receiving treatment in their kitchen.

Since then, the couple have cared for all manner of creatures, from a rescued goat and dumped skunk to 30 unwanted barn owls and abandoned red squirrels.

Today, The Sanctuary is home to more than 100 animals. About 40 volunteers help out at the centre, but the work and financial demands can be tough.

Ms Olson, 51, said: “2013 was a hard year for us. We decided to close to the general public and made the hardest decision not to take in any further animals. With more than 100 here already, we have a responsibility to give them the right level of care and to raise money to help us do this.

“Despite everything, we are still caring for animals and are the region’s largest and longest-running sanctuary and we think that is an achievement to be proud of.”

The Sanctuary will celebrate its 21st anniversary on Monday with an open day, from 11am to 4pm. There will be stalls, activities and animal handling. Admission is a suggested donation of £2.50.

Anyone with donations for stalls, such as bric-a-brac, books, toys or cakes, should contact Ms Olson at thesanc

The centre will also be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday.