Nestling in 72 acres of South Somerset is an animal sancuatury that only exists because of the second world war.
The Ferne Animal Sanctuary is located in a beautiful & protected countryside area within the Blackdown Hills on the border of Devon/Somerset.
Ferne was set up by the late Nina, Duchess of Hamilton & Brandon as she realised that with the up-coming second world war. There would or should be a need to also keep animals safe too.
With men and women going off to war there would be no one to take care of their animals and it would require a refuge for them in the safety of the countryside.
She in the end used her home near Shaftesbury on the Dorset /Wiltshire border. Caring for some 6,000 animals during the war period. Later in 1975 Ferne moved to its present location near to Chard.
Being well connected to those in power the Duchess put a call out on the BBC. And the story goes that by the time she returned to her London home there were a number of cats and dogs on her doorstep and even a parrot!
War Was Just the Start For Ferne Animal Sanctuary
In the end she used her home near Shaftesbury on the Dorset /Wiltshire border and during the war cared for some 14,000 animals. Later in 1975 Ferne moved to its present location near to Chard.
Over the last 84 years the Ferne Animal Sanctuary has cared for some 40,000 animals.
Today there are around 300 animals being cared for on the site from fully grown horses to tiny Finches.
The Ferne complex is located a few miles from Chard and I recommend driving to it from Chard as there are some extremely narrow lanes around it if coming from a more southerly direction.
As with most visitor attractions there is a cafe, visitors centre and a shop where you can buy pet feeds as well as a range of gifts.
This is not an animal petting park. However, it strives to educate how to better care for animals both large and small.
The wide open spaces of the sanctuary make for a relaxing visit.
Ferne Did Moved But The Work Carried On
Even if you do not want to adopt one of the cats and dogs that are available. Your entrance fee and spend around the park does help to keep this 80 year old institution going. It has to be said that some of the animals are there because of being neglected or traumatised.
These animals are kept away from the main visitor areas while they adjust to their new life of freedom and peace.
Walking trails and activities help make the visit. Further exploring the grounds there are plenty of animals to see. Some animals that look small and cute but cannot be adopted. That is the case of Hamish a Highland calf that was hand reared but was no good as a farm animal and so he will live his life out now at Ferne.
The sanctuary hosts a national rewilding and breeding project. This one involved 40 water voles being released around the ponds within the grounds.
Nina’s Cafe is a great stop off for homemade cakes, light meals tea’s and coffee’s.
Chatting with team members at Ferne is recommended. They have a wealth of information about the many creatures that they work with every day.
Talk To The Staff
Adopting a Collie puppy may be cute but will need a huge amount of exercise. Living in a flat or small home could well trigger in it behaviour like trying to round up small children or nipping people’s heels.
Adopting one of the cats or dogs they like to point out the following:
That you have enough time to spend with your dog or cat
A dog should not be left on its own for longer than 5 hours and must be able to go to the toilet and exercise. A cat needs access to the outside and to have quality time spent with it every day.
The amount of exercise your dog will need
Most dogs will require regular, twice daily exercise, Please do your breed research to get an idea of the levels of both physical and mental stimulation different breeds may need.
Breed and coat type will affect the amount your dog or cat moults. This will determine the amount of grooming (and vacuuming) required. Some breeds will require regular visits to a professional groomer.
The Costs Involved
Food; veterinary bills; vaccinations; worming; flea treatments; neutering and unexpected veterinary bills for illness or injury. Pet insurance is always recommended. All cats and dogs from us come with 4 weeks free insurance with PetPlan to get you started.
Making arrangements for while you are away
Boarding kennels/cattery; pet sitter.
Even an adult dog or cat when settling into a new home may have accidents. Be prepared for some re-training and cleaning if necessary.
Chewing and destructive behaviour
This can be a result of boredom, stress or habit. Some re-training/behavioural work may be required.
That you are happy to deal and cope with any problems that may arise
It is likely that you will have some problems with a rescued dog or cat which will require calm, gentle handling, a lot of patience and consistency. You may need to consider the help of a training or behaviour professional in some cases.
However, if you do take on an animal the joy of such a commitment can change your life and hopefully change the life of an animal that may have had a trauma at the start of theirs!
*£7.70 Child (age 3–16)
*£27.45 for a family of two adults and up to three children.
* including Gift Aid