I am a total sucker for cute little animals, and so with the kids in tow (Yes boys, you WILL enjoy looking at the animals while mum gets a bit weepy) I headed off to St. Tiggywinkle’s Wildlife Hospital in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire
St. Tiggywinkle’s cares for ill and injured wild animals, 24 hours a day 365 days a year. It is best known for looking after hedgehogs but actually they will help any injured wild animals such as foxes, badgers and birds.
We had seen it featured in an episode of the BBC’s Come Outside. Auntie Mabel had got into her spotty plane to fly there and was invited into the hospital for a look round.
Well, you can’t actually wander round the hospital (would you want people gawping at you if you were poorly? No, me neither), however there are veiwing windows where you can see the ongoing work of the hospital.
There is a lovely Visitor Centre which makes a interesting day out, where you can also gain an appreciation of the work done by the hospital.
The hospital has a number of animals which live permanently at the centre. These are ones which are too disabled to be released back into the wild. They are housed in a garden designed to be an ideal habitat for them. This garden is a lovely peaceful place to be, with water features, a huge pond for ducks, geese and herons and a lookout post towards the fields where deer are recuperating.
Here there is also a children’s play area with climbing frames and swings, so the kids can let off some steam while parents have a sit down.
Indoors there is a museum of Hedgehog memorabilia – from kitsch to cool, historical to hysterical, if it has been named after a hedgehog or looks like a hedgehog it’s there! It is also possible to view the nurseries full of baby animals and see the day-to-day work of the hospital on CCTV.
A small selection of snacks and drinks are available from the shop, and there are plenty of seating areas where you can have a picnic if you wish to bring your own food. The whole centre is pushchair friendly, has baby changing facilities and the staff are helpful and friendly too.
If you don’t get to see a hedgehog they will offer to go and find one for you!
As this is a hospital and not a zoo there is no guarantee what animals will be around on any particular day, however there is lots of information on the treatment and care of animals. St Tiggywinkle’s is a charitable trust and also contributes to wildlife conservation in many ways. It trains young people for City and Guilds Animal Care certificates and funds research into wildlife related issues.
By visiting the centre you will not only have a fascinating day out but also help them to continue their wonderful work which helps wild animals all over Britain.
We had a lovely day out there, and would recommend it to any othe animal lovers.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.