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Deeping St James Exotic Pet Refuge appeals for help to continue as it struggles during coronavirus pandemic

The founder of an exotic pet refuge is appealing for help in raising around £80,000 to make up for the money lost during the coronavirus crisis..

Devoted animal lover Pam Mansfield says that the outbreak is going to have a huge impact on the Exotic Pet Refuge in Deeping St James, but with the help of public donations they stand a chance of surviving.

The refuge is home to a wide variety of animals, including monkeys, reptiles and birds, and is renowned for its open days which give the public a chance to visit.

Deeping St James' Exotic Pet Refuge founder Pam Mansfield and her dog, Gypsy pictured in 2019
Deeping St James' Exotic Pet Refuge founder Pam Mansfield and her dog, Gypsy pictured in 2019

However, with the Easter open day cancelled and further events unlikely to go ahead, the sanctuary could struggle to remain open.

Pam said: "We usually raise around £11,000 on the first open day and it's frightening to realise how much we raise each year.

"I doubt we will be able to go ahead with the dates in May or June. A date in July is possible but it's all up in the air.

"We need around £80,000 to keep going - electricity alone is costing us £2,000 a month."

Luckily, Pam and her volunteers are able to continue caring for the animals currently, but stockpiling shoppers are a threat to the animals' wellbeing.

Pam, who founded the refuge in 1984 with her late husband Mel, said: "We are managing at the moment, but we are having a job to get food for the animals.

"Sainsbury's in Bourne have always been great at providing us with waste food they have left over, but they don't have any left at the moment.

"The monkeys need vegetables and we desperately need chicken for the cats - the lynx eats a chicken a day.

"We can't, and won't let the animals starve."

Pam is also finding the coronavirus outbreak difficult personally, as she is in the high risk group due to health issues.

Thankfully, she is able to take care of most of the animals while self-isolating and is receiving plenty of support.

She said: "I'm lucky that my son and daughter-in-law live on site, as do the manager and her husband.

"I go round every morning and check on the animals which takes a good few hours and keeps me busy.

"The monkeys are susceptible to anything we as humans can catch, so now we have just one person looking after them."

The refuge doesn't receive any government funding so relies solely on donations from the public and, without the ability to open to visitors, Pam has turned to asking for donations via a GoFundMe page online, with money already starting to come in.

Pam added: "People are so good and I want to thank everyone for donating so far, all of the people who are ringing up concerned about the refuge and just for generally being lovely.

If you are able to help in any way, you can donate funds by visiting the GoFundMe page here.

Details of an Amazon wish list where essentials can be ordered and sent directly to the refuge can be found on the Exotic Pet Refuge Facebook page.

More coronavirus news here

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