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£6,000 raised for Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre as fire repair work continues

By Jordan Reynolds | Eccleshall | News | Published:

More than £6,000 has been raised to help rebuild a wildlife centre where animals died in a fire this week.

Staff started the clean-up but were soon joined by many volunteers

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

Volunteers repair Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre after animals killed in fire

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.

A GoFundMe page set up by Ms Morgan received £5,730 from 346 donors in two days, while a JustGiving page organised by Amy Scholey raised £732.

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.

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"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

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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.

Sybil the meerkat is recovering well

"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

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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