FERNE Animal Sanctuary has announced recent changes that will be implemented from April 1.

The animal welfare has been the key charitable purpose at Ferne Animal Sanctuary for over eighty years, during which time approximately 40,000 animals have been cared for.

Started in 1939 by the late Lady Nina Duchess of Hamilton & Brandon, other key milestones include 1965 when it became a registered charity and 1975 when the home of the sanctuary moved from Dorset to its current location in Wambrook, Chard, Somerset.

As part of its charitable work, Ferne aims to educate people about how best to care for their animals. The team at Ferne care for them all and share their expertise with those who visit and the wider community.

A spokesperson said: "The work Ferne does is constantly evolving, and this coming Spring sees further changes planned at Ferne Animal Sanctuary.

"The sanctuary will close to public visitors at 5pm on Sunday March 19, and will re-open at 10am on Saturday April 1.

"There are plans for a preopening day on Friday, March 31 for all our registered supporters, and contact shall be made with them separately to invite them for that occasion."

Visitors to the sanctuary from March 31 onwards should notice the following changes, amongst others:

  • The entrance to the walk has been changed. It will be now from the relocated Visitor Centre, adjacent to Nina’s Café at the top of the car park, working its way through the sanctuary until it reaches the relocated shop adjacent the conference / function room.
  • The tour has now been moved to downhill as many visitors complained of the upperhill one being difficult for many.
  • The cattery will oversee new changes such as fencing, signage, and modernisation to the exterior with the amount of mesh fencing being reduced, visibility of the cattery maintained, and information about the cats enhanced.
  • A new art, crafts & education room will be opened. Opposite the equine stables and the barn our events & activities coordinator, Katherine, will be on hand to engage with visitors, mixing learning & play, education & fun, with animal welfare education.
  • The silhouette animals will become part of the learning, bringing accurate anatomical terms to understand each part of the approximate 300 residents.
  • Willow Walk & the 5 Animal Freedoms will be brought to life. New sculptures and enhanced information will be used towards the end of the walk, delivering a welfare message that we can all bear in mind when caring for animals.
  • The recently installed FerneHenge shall be curated, alongside Willow Walk. This will focus on the benefits to the land, environment, and other species, that these huge ‘bug hotels’ bring.
  • Guided Tours are bookable online, as are all entry tickets. Following the great feedback received about the October Half Term tours, these will be a constant at Ferne, enabling visitors to go off the beaten track with one of our animal experts providing detailed information about the work of the sanctuary.

The Sanctuary is open 362 days a year (closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day) and an Annual Pass is great value, paying for itself with the third visit. For more details, visit ferneanimalsanctuary.org