A RURAL wildlife centre is certainly getting in the Easter spirit — with 12 baby bunnies to care for.
The Sanctuary Wildlife Care Centre in Ulgham took in a box of unwanted rabbits in December and separated them into sexes.
But one cheeky chap sneaked through the checks to make it into the female section and now the centre has a dozen 12-week-old babies.
The little ones bring its total number of rabbits to 23.
Sanctuary owner Kim Olson said: “A box of seven unwanted three-month-old pet rabbits were left at the centre two weeks before Christmas.
“Allan and I sexed them and decided we had six females and one male, but we got it wrong. We had one male in with the girls and let’s say he introduced himself to all of them.
“We hope to be able to re-home them when they’re older, but Easter is really in the air here this weekend with bunnies everywhere.”
Visitors may be able to get a glimpse of the youngsters in their nest over the Bank Holiday weekend when The Sanctuary hosts a fun-filled Easter fund-raiser to help support the 160 rescued animals there.
Tomorrow, Lisa Walker of Mini Pony Hire will take her ponies Smurf and Marley to the centre to offer children a short ride in the trap.
Smurf himself was a rescue pony and was taken in by Lisa and her husband Mark 19 years ago, the same time as The Sanctuary began, when he had been abandoned on the A1, near Gateshead.
The initiative is being sponsored by Ringtons Tea, which is also providing tea and coffee for The Sanctuary to sell to raise further funds, after one of its workers Steven Drysdale approached the company for support following a visit to the attraction for a hands-on guided tour.
The pony rides are just one of a number of activities organised at the facility over the weekend.
Other attractions include Easter egg trails, tombolas, book and bric-a-brac stalls, a car wash and a DIY tool stall.
Pre-booked guided tours can also be arranged for Sunday at 10.30am, offering a unique experience and a glimpse behind the scenes, with the opportunity to feed foxes, owls, hedgehogs and other residents.
Visitors are encouraged to take donations of second-hand books, bric-a-brac, children’s toys, DVDs, CDs and homemade cakes to sell, while the animals would appreciate tinned pet food, brown bread, ginger snaps and rich tea biscuits, jam doughnuts, apples and carrots.
The centre will be open from Good Friday to Easter Monday, from 11am to 4pm daily.
For more information, or to book a tour, call 01670 791778 or visit www.wildlife-sanctuary.co.uk