An Inspector Calls...

Twice a year, we are visited by local veterinary surgeon Paul Canham to undertake an inspection necessary for the granting of a Zoo Licence by Mid Suffolk District Council. Without the licence, the Sanctuary would not be able to function in its current form, as it could not display its wild animals to the visiting public.

There are criteria which must be met before a licence can be granted; the Sanctuary must

*help educate people about diversity
*offer suitable habitat for the types of animals kept
*have a high standard of animal care
*have measures in place to prevent animals escaping

The Vet Inspection provides feedback to the sanctuary and the council on standards of accommodation and care and supplies a valuable benchmark for the quality of facilities. There are three elements to the inspection; animals, aviaries and hospital.

The first category requires that  animal husbandry is of an excellent standard. The vet ascertains this by evaluating the health of all the owls and other birds of prey on site, plus the red squirrels. He must satisfy himself that they are physically fit and psychologically healthy - alert, contented, well fed, with well conditioned plumage and clean beaks and talons. They must have access to clean water and their living quarters must be clean and hygienic.

Lily the Little Owl recommends her accommodation to vet

Secondly, the vet assesses the standard of the birds’ and animals’ accommodation. The aviaries must be weatherproof and offer enough space for the birds to feel secure but not cramped. Nest boxes must be dry and solid and foliage within the aviaries non toxic. Although breeding aviaries cannot be disturbed, they still require clean water and the removal of organic debris after feeding.

The third element of the visit requires that the vet inspects the standard of the hospital facilities. He checks the drugs cupboard contents - that storage protocol is being followed and that no drugs are retained beyond their expiry date. Detailed records must also be kept of each hospital admission - the case, its treatment and outcome - and stored securely. The rehabilitation aviaries are also inspected to ensure that they offer appropriate clean, dry, quiet and spacious accommodation for recuperation.

Vet Paul Canham checks the hospital drugs cabinet with Manager Andy Hulme

After his visit, the vet wrote a report of his findings and submitted it to S.O.S. - a few minor tweaks were required and once completed, the findings formed the basis of a letter of satisfaction which he forwarded to the Environmental Officer of Mid Suffolk District Council for the subsequent successful retention of the Zoo Licence.