£6,000 raised for Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre as fire repair work continues
More than £6,000 has been raised to help rebuild a wildlife centre where animals died in a fire this week.
Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre in Eccleshall reopened yesterday for the first time since the blaze, which killed three giant tortoises, a meerkat and around 15 fruit bats on Monday morning.
Volunteers young and old have been working hard to repair the damage caused by the fire, which ripped through three enclosures after being started by a fault in the electrical heating system.
WATCH: Volunteers repair fire-hit centre
Director Jenny Morgan said she was lost for words at the generosity of the many people who have donated goods, money and time to the centre.
And with work to rebuild the enclosures expected to cost between £10,000 and £12,000, donations have also been sent in to the centre via PayPal.
"The fundraising page is doing amazingly well," Ms Morgan said.
"There are still people bringing donations in and helping to clear up.
"It's been a real boost for us as we've still got to keep the sanctuary open for the other animals."
Basil the meerkat died in the fire while his partner Sybil escaped and is now doing well, Jenny said.
"Sybil's breathing is doing well and we're going to move her to another part of the sanctuary out of the hospital," she added.
"We're on the hunt to find her a companion now, they shouldn't be kept on her own, they're very sociable animals.
"We're hoping to find a middle-aged man, I don't think she'd cope with a young boyfriend.
"It's a cold hard fact that we've got to rebuild it, we can't just close the doors, but the support has been overwhelming."
The fire also involved power cables and left around 14 nearby properties without power, including Fletchers Garden Centre next door.
Basil and Sybil moved to the wildlife centre in Stone Road, which houses around 100 exotic animals and birds of prey, in 2013 after being rescued from "appalling" conditions at a mobile zoo.
They were given a new enclosure to live in in 2015 after another successful fundraising campaign.
To donate, visit gofundme.com/sanctuary-fire-damage-appeal