Alexandra's Animals: Friends for life with Alexandra Bastedo

Alexandra Bastedo, actress and custodian of the ABC Animal Sanctuary near Pulborough, tells us about some of the enduring friendships formed by her charges

IT MAY be winter but at the animal sanctuary the behaviour of some of the inhabitants is such that you would think spring had arrived.

With the present economic climate the volume of needy animals is greater than ever and these days the animal sanctuary is always full – catteries, stables, animal houses, pig arks – all have double or even triple or quadruple occupancy where possible when the animals get on with each other.

The great advantage of working with animals in this sanctuary is that we get a chance to observe animal behaviour at close proximity and some very real friendships are formed. Nutmeg, the half blind pony, and Misty are firm friends and all the donkeys are inseparable. Newly arrived Buddy, the diabetic Shetland, has fallen head over heels in love with Jill the black Shetland with deformed legs, the sheep and goats are always together and we try to rehome the cats with their particular friends so they don’t pine for each other.

Once we found two lovely different homes for two feline friends and one started to self- mutilate so badly we had to get him back to his other cattery companions. Fortunately he settled down again and his fur grew back. As for Acorn and Hazel, our two elderly pig, they so loved each other that when he died she sobbed real tears, lay across his body, refused to move, declined all food and died herself, inconsolable, five days later.

With our three latest rescued pigs spring has definitely arrived and one of the two micropig sows has just given birth to nine micropiglets! All are absolutely minute and gorgeous but quite unexpected. A sow pregnancy lasts four months so she would have got pregnant long before she came to us. The boar is castrated but the worry is the other sow may be pregnant too. Help!

In the meantime a recently rescued cat is also expecting and her friend may be too, as neither is spayed. Besides that we have taken in two rams and eight sheep who are likely to give birth in January. Needless to say, most of these new arrivals are up for rehoming and can be found on the rehoming page of our website. This includes the adorable micropigs. We are always reluctant to part with our animals as we do get attached to them, but we have to make vacancies in order to take in other animals in need.  We are having to make all kinds of alterations to the sheds to keep the baby animals well through the winter and protected them from foxes and badgers. We very much need stone slabs and rubber matting for the floors of the animal houses and any adoptions, sponsorship or donations helping towards the cost of these animals will be most gratefully received.

Rehoming is by appointment only, seven days a week. PO Box 2195, West Chiltington, Pulborough, West Sussex 01798812508 or 07967046068

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