Portrush animal sanctuary Casey’s Creatures and its post-Covid plans
The owner of Portrush exotic animal sanctuary ‘Casey’s Creatures’ said he has been “blown away” by support after the Coronavirus lockdown threatened the future of his business.
Casey McKinney runs the business which rescues and cares for animals such as meerkats, skunks, sugar gliders, african pygmy hedgehogs, parrots, raccoons, foxes and many other vulnerable species. People get animals like this as ‘pets’, but often realise their care requirements are much more difficult than they initially realised, and Casey offers these animals a lifelong home in a safe environment.
‘Casey’s Creatures’ has always funded the £1,000 a week needed to care for the animals through interactive, educational wildlife workshops at schools, nursing homes, birthday parties and youth groups.
However, lockdown rules made it impossible for Casey to continue with such events, and he has unfortunately not qualified for any of the government financial support offered so far.
Casey said: “Even if schools do open again in September, we’ve all seen the pictures of what they are going to look like. There is no way they’re going to be bringing in outside visitors like myself on a regular basis to teach kids about extra things. It will be the same for nursing homes, nurseries and youth groups. These were my main ways of bringing in an income to support the sanctuary.
“That only leaves birthday parties, but the thing is, doing birthday parties means going to several homes throughout the course of the weekend. Each of those homes filled with kids from different households. Even though I am young and healthy and not too worried about catching this, I am a huge risk of spreading it throughout all the different homes I visit. I just can’t do that.”
Although Casey cannot take any more bookings for the events, he stressed that this is not the end for Casey’s Creatures. However, the animals still need to be cared for and fed while Casey plans to reorganise his business in the future.
A supporter of Casey’s Creatures set up a GoFundMe appeal to help cover the costs of feeding and caring for the animals which takes at least £2,000 a month.
The £1,000 target fundraiser, organised by Gillian Dixon, hit an incredible £3,590 in just a matter of days!
“I am blown away,” said Casey, “and a bit overwhelmed to be honest.”
Future plans for Casey’s Creatures include starting a Youtube channel with a Patreon account, options for animal adoptions, private zoom sessions for home schooling etc.
Casey is also making plans for a major project which “allows us to move to our new rural secluded site on the outskirts of Portrush. This is where we will change over from being Casey’s Creatures to Tales of the Wild - a non profit conservation and education centre.
“We need a minimum of £200,000 to make this a reality. The site needs planning permission, security, services and other infrastructure in place, and then the 5* accommodation for all of the animals. I would also love to hear from local businesses or investors who would be interested in sponsorship. “
Businesses such as 2020 Architects and Cloud Corp Vaping have already stepped up to offer their support with this new venture, and Casey hopes to apply for planning within the next few months.
To find out further information, check out the Facebook page Casey’s Creatures.