rescue retreat at Queensberry Bay

Animal Rescue at Queensberry Bay Holiday Park

Our holiday park is quite unique in the fact that it’s essentially partly a ‘petting zoo’ of sorts – we have dozens of rescue animals being homed at the holiday park.

Donkeys, llamas, horses, pigs, dogs, emus, Shetland ponies, ducks, chickens, cats, rabbits, etc., all call Queensberry Bay Holiday Park home.

All of the animals at our holiday park are rescue animals. Find out how they ended up with us, why we love them and how our animal rescue ‘service’ operates…

Why do you rescue animals?

We love animals at Queensberry Bay but becoming a rescue centre wasn’t a conscious decision – it started some 10 years ago when someone was about to have some Shetland ponies shot.
And we had the space and land to take them.
So we did.
And they’re still with us today. Old and doddery but very much with us.
And gradually over the years we’ve been approached by dozens of people asking us to take in unwanted or poorly animals.
Rupert and Eric, for example, were the first donkeys we welcomes into our holiday park.

How can you refuse to take an animal?

It’s so hard, and it breaks our hearts every time – but we have a responsibility to the animals that are already here and we only have so much land and sometimes we have to say no.
In the recession we had 17 requests to take horses and ponies. What can you do?
And sometimes we get it wrong – once, against our better judgement, we took in two male llamas that had been abandoned. Unbeknownst to us they’d been sedated when they came here and when they came round they tried to kill us, each other and our own llamas.
That’s why we have to be so careful – there’s a whole community of animals here in their own social groups and you can’t just throw another into the pot (as it were . . .) and hope for the best.

Would you have an animal put down?

Yes – if it was in pain or so ill it wasn’t going to recover – there’s no question.
And we have had to do it in the past- an example was Tim last year.
But we have a great vet, Paul, and when he says it’s time we know it really is time – and Paul makes sure the end is as painless as possible.
And we all cry for weeks because our rescued animals are a part of our lives.
But we would never have an animal put down because it was old, or cost too much, or useless.
That’s not what we’re about.

Are you a registered animal rescue charity?

No – and all the work is done at our own expense. It’s a lot of money each year – on vets bills alone!
But equally there’s a huge sense of pride to look out and see an animal wandering free that was on its way to slaughter. Our black donkeys – Hamish and McBeth – are prime examples. Who could pull the trigger on them?
We certainly couldn’t.

Why do you personalise the animals?

In these days of virtual reality it’s hard to make people understand the value of real life – a donkey in a field is just a donkey.
Add a back story and some humour, and we find people do actually care what happens to this donkey in this field.
It’s not trivialising the animal or its suffering – it’s getting under the radar and making people take note without forcing the issue and losing them.
It works for us.

What do you love about rescuing?

Making a difference for these creatures!
Isn’t that what we all want to do in life – make a difference in some way?
And because what we do is so visible – anyone can come and see these animals (once they’ve settled and are willing to trust humans again) – we also make a difference to other people’s lives who can come and interact with them.
There’s something incredibly calming about watching a herd of llama wander cross the field at sundown…
Animals are great levellers!

And what do you hate about rescuing?

We hate the way some people treat animals – and it still shocks us.
We hate losing animals – they really do become part of our family.
We hate the way some people try to use the animals to get at us – like being reported “anonymously” to the SSPCA after we’ve asked someone to leave the park for some reason. And we’ve no problem with that – it’s part of owning animals – but it’s an annoying waste of SSPCA time.
We hate the fact that we can’t take in every animal that’s looking for a home. We do our best – and the llamas above were found new homes – but we just can’t take everything, and that’s really sad.

Would you do it again?

Absolutely!

See our Wombat’s Walks here
Are we dog friendly?
Here’s Eric’s Scrapbook

Another one of Eric’s Scrapbooks