Exotic animal event in Rufford this Sunday to raise rescue funds

This weekend a Lancashire search and rescue team for exotic animals are hosting a fundraising event for all the family.

By Aimee Seddon
Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 12:30 pm

A fun family event is taking place in Rufford Village Hall on Sunday to fundraise for Beastwatch UK CIC, the country’s only search and rescue team for exotic animals.

Beastwatch is a nationwide community interest company, but the fundraising event is being held by the Lancashire team, who have had some high profile rescues recently, including a missing snake in Tarleton last month.

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Mike Potts, CEO of Beastwatch UK CIC with Latifa a Tanuki.

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    Taking place between 12 noon and 4pm, the “Beastwatch funday” includes animal shows put on by Critters Interactive Animals Encounters, and Animal Parties North West, as well as live music and various food and drink stalls.

    There will also be raffles, jewelry sales, craft-making stalls, bouncy castles and rides, whilst the Rural Wildlife Police and Preston Hedgehog Rescue will be in attendance.

    The event is free to enter but visitors are asked to donate generously for the cause, with all the money going towards essential resources and equipment for Beastwatch UK CIC.

    Explaining why Beastwatch’s services are so needed, their CEO, 54-year old Mike Potts from Leyland, said: “Just on a local level for the Lancashire team, we're in negotiations with the Fire and Rescue Service and police to fill a gap which they consider to be a much needed resource, the expertise in dealing with exotic animals or wildlife, which is not there for them during an emergency. The RSPCA is essentially a cat and dog service, which is now nine to five, so they are notably not responsive for emergencies situations.”

    Mike, also the owner of Critters Interactive Animals Encounters, with Mr Cadburys Parrot, a Boa.

    Money raised at the event will help cover the costs of Beastwatch's much needed services, including potential vet fees that incur as a result of rescuing injured animals, as well as essential equipment, such as thermal imaging cameras.

    Apart from a few donations, the not-for-profit are mainly self-funding, and want to soon be in a position where they can pay mileage expenses for volunteers and even have paid responders on call across the region too.

    Mike, a retired psychiatric nurse who also owns Critters Interactive Animals Encounters, added: “It's a fun day but it’s also an interesting opportunity for people to actually come along and meet the animal response team that they might possibly not even have heard of, because ultimately, we want to become a household name. We want to demonstrate to people that there is an alternative to an RSPA answerphone. There's got to be a better option than that for both wildlife and escaped exotic pets. So it's an opportunity for people to come on and learn a bit more about what we do and learn about some of the animals that we work with!"

    You can find out more about Beastwatch UK CIC, including how to volunteer or donate, by visiting their website.

    Mike Potts with Molly his albino ferret, Mike has been working with exotic animals since he was seven years old.