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Thursday 25 May 2017

Exotic animals feel the squeeze of recession as they are made homeless

Kevin Cunningham, of the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary, with an Argentinian black and white tegu
Kevin Cunningham, of the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary, with an Argentinian black and white tegu
Kevin with an eight-foot boa constrictor

Elaine Keogh

SOME unusual orphans are in need of new homes as a result of the recession -- snakes, lizards and other exotic reptiles.

"People moving home or emigrating are left wondering what will I do with my eight-foot boa constrictor? Mummy doesn't want it returning home with her son or daughter from their Dublin apartment and we end up getting called in," explained Kevin Cunningham, of the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary.

Mr Cunningham currently cares for 17 reptiles, many of which are bearded dragons. "They were the trendiest thing in the world three or four years ago and today I could easily have 150 of them here if I had the space," he added.

The sanctuary is renovating a large Portakabin to house more reptiles and will soon provide shelter to 20 horses and ponies.

One of them is a distressed thoroughbred mare called Monica. "She is about 33 years old and she was found tied to a fence when a horse mart had ended one day. She was unsold and just abandoned but we will look after her for the rest of her life."

Wildlife rescues are part and parcel of the work done by sanctuary staff based on a 22-acre site near Ballivor in Co Meath. Mr Cunningham hand-reared an eight-month-old deer named 'Deedee', while in a Portakabin beside her is a baby kestrel. There's also 100 terrapins, rescued from rivers, ponds, fountains and a roadside.

"When people want rid of them that's what they do," he added as he petted Cleo, found in the bottom of a glass-filled recycling bin when she was eight weeks.

Irish Independent

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