556 stakeholders backing this idea
Animal sanctuary with a difference. Where art and nature are combined, animals have a home, and people are inspired.
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We want to build a place that will restore the connection between nature and children.
An exotic animal sanctuary where kids can come and learn about and experience nature in a way that they have never been able to before. More interactive and hands on than any zoo, but also have just as much to see and do. Instead of having hundreds of different species all in smaller enclosures, we would have a much smaller number of species - but provide enclosures that are so spacious, interactive and completely designed around their natural habitats that the word ‘cage’ could never be used to describe them.
We’re also the only facility in Northern Ireland able to take on unwanted exotic pets, with no funds we are very small at the minute, but in the future we hope to be able to give a home to any animal that needs one.
We have a large site that we would like to transform into a work of art, inspired by nothing but nature. A beautiful, interactive garden with amazing animals everywhere. There will be vegetable patches, an orchard and a greenhouse with a living jungle eco-system. We would run workshops every week with kids, giving them the opportunity to meet these incredible animals in their natural environment.
With my current business (www.caseyscreatures.co.uk) I take exotic animals into schools to let the kids meet them and learn about their conservation. The number one thing I am asked by teachers and parents is when will we have a site ready for the kids to come to us, so that's why we came up with this idea.
We will inspire young people, and equip them with the tools and passion they will need to look after this Earth long after we are gone.
Children love nature, but with video games, expanding cities and busy school lives, the outdoors is starting to lose its importance to them. You should see their faces light up when I bring skunks, raccoons and large snakes to their classroom - imagine they had a place to come to see and interact with these animals in their natural environment. Unlike a zoo or any nature reserve, something totally unique, interactive and a really special experience.
We are also big believers in cross community projects, and as this centre will be in Northern Ireland we feel it is a very important issue we have to tackle. We hope to bring young people together from all walks of life to help bridge the gap in our communities.
We will provide jobs and work placements to people who love animals. It is extremely hard for young people (without proper qualifications) to get to work with animals such as this, we hope to give them that opportunity.
And of course - the animals will benefit too. We would be the only exotic animal sanctuary in Northern Ireland - this is something that is greatly needed. We would also hope to become part of breeding programmes for endangered animals around the world. And finally, through side projects we would hope to get kids helping out with the local environment - planting forests and gardens and building animal shelters for our native wildlife.
I believe with the correct funding I could have this place up and running in around 3 months. I am working at this dream every day of my life, building and trying to sort out the accommodation for the animals at our 4 acre site. The only thing that every slows me down is the funding.
So within 3 months, the place could definitely be ready for opening. This will, however, be an ongoing project that hopefully grows and expands constantly. We have much bigger ideas and dreams for where we will take this in the future - but we have to start somewhere and with something manageable.
The only concern I ever have is funding. I believe with all my heart this place will become a reality, it is just a matter of time. With or without funding, I will continue to build and work hard at it everyday. Doing it myself will take several years, but with the correct start-up funds the place would be brought to life in no time.
I have loved animals all of my life. I studied exotic animal management at college and then found myself lucky enough to start to care for, look after and work with these incredible animals. I then started my own business, sharing the animals with my local community and giving the kids once in a lifetime opportunities to interact with them up close.
Things started snowballing rapidly from there and people now always tell me I should have a site where they can come to visit. So about 8 months ago we acquired a four acre site and came up with the idea of a huge, beautiful garden with the exotic animals around every corner.
I also have a group of extremely dedicated and inspirational friends and family who have helped me get this far. They want to help this place become a reality, and we will all work together to make it happen. At the end, I would love to repay them by giving them jobs working with the animals they love.
We have the passion, the space, the location, the skills and knowledge, the niche in the market and the need for such a place - all we lack is the funding.
Make a list of all the different things you’ll need to pay for to make your idea happen.
Food preparing room
Till, stationary and paperwork
Trees, plants and allotment
Visitor pathway, fences and signs
Wire/wood for all outdoor enclosures
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