Scaynes Hill animal sanctuary grateful for support as it adapts during pandemic

A couple who run an animal sanctuary from their Scaynes Hill home have had to come up with new ways to raise funds during the pandemic to support the 100-plus rescues they have in their care.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 11:30 am

Mark Latter and Jerry Meuldijk, from Our Amazing Animal World, are grateful for the response and support they have received since having to adapt, and hope to resume normal services as soon as Covid restrictions allow.

Mark said: “In normal times we take some of the animals out to care homes, hospices, schools, etc. to give animal-assisted therapy but also to educate on the importance of animal care, welfare and rescuing over breeding.

“However, Covid has obviously crushed us financially so we are trying to raise money in other ways.

Jerry Meuldijk, from Our Amazing Animal World in Scaynes Hill, with one of the santuary's rescued guinea pigs
Jerry Meuldijk, from Our Amazing Animal World in Scaynes Hill, with one of the santuary's rescued guinea pigs

“Everyone’s support is currently getting us through these difficult times.”

In order to get by, the couple have started crowdfunding, offering Zoom animal encounters, animal sponsorships and adoptions, socially distanced studio visits, selling items through their Etsy Shop, and have created an Amazon wishlist.

Jerry said: “We sell bird feeders with animal paw prints, canvases with paws, cards and more. People have been so generous, we’re very lucky.

“We started looking after the animals, we chose to look after them, so we pay for them ourselves – but we had to be very creative and ask if people wanted to help us and they have, which is amazing.”

Mark Latter from Our Mazing Animal World in Sacynes Hill with Louie the meerkat

Since setting up Our Amazing Animal World, the couple have opened up their home to abandoned or abused animals from all types of backgrounds – including meerkats, reptiles, rabbits, chickens, tortoises, a skunk, guinea pigs, mice, and even a female rat who then gave birth to ten pups.

At the sanctuary, Mark and Jerry have purpose-built enclosures rather than cages, and they prefer not to rehome the animals unless it is in the animal’s best interest.

Before the pandemic, the passionate animal lovers – who met in 2008 – raised funds by offering party packages, school and care home visits, after school clubs, photography shoots, and were even able to bring the animals to fetes, fayres, weddings and christenings.

Jerry, who used to work as a special educational needs teacher, said: “We’ve both always rescued animals, when we met we both had rescued dogs, cats and rabbits.

Jerry Meuldijk (left) and Mark Latter (right with Louie the meerkat) run Our Amazing Animal World from their home in Scaynes Hill SUS-210316-150853001

“We work full time rescuing and looking after all kinds of animals that nobody else wants, ones who are shy, aggressive, or are old and need a quiet home to retire to.

“The last three years we’ve both been doing this full time, which has been crazy but so much fun.

“I especially love the work we do in care homes. One time there was a man with Alzheimer’s who was shaking from Parkinson’s, until we gave him an animal and his shaking stopped. There are so many people in the care homes we visit who are quite quiet, or don’t really speak, but will join in and start talking when they hold the animals.

“But we don’t overwork our animals, I don’t like to work every day so I imagine our animals don’t either!”

Mark and Jerry are experienced animal handlers with a three-year animals activities Licence, and in the past they have even introduced some of the animals in celebrity homes such as Sara Cox, Zoe Ball and Bryan Adams.

Mark – who used to work as a graphic designer and who created the sanctuary’s website – said: “We are fully dedicated to offering a unique and fully interactive experience for both children and adults.

“We are not a big company and don’t breed or sell animals – this journey has always been about us choosing to offer a home to unwanted animals and then bringing a selection of those out to meet people.”

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