OK here goes... Hello everyone! This is my first post here. I am not sure where exactly to post my story, as it involves several animal species and something that could be described as a pet zoo or a hobby farm Smile
I'd just like to ask for general advice and share my story with people who might have a similar experience.
I live in a country where unfortunately, animals rights are practically non-existant. Many people here view animals as food or, at best, entertainment. In my 10 years of living and raising my children here, my wish to do something about this has been growing... of course, I can't change the world or even the country, but I can do something small in my community that might teach some people to respect animals more...
Lately, I have started to feel responsible for several animals that I found in my children's nurseries/pre-schools and scattered around in my neighbourhood. The animals are "looked after" by people who have no time for them, no interest in them and even less knowledge about them... Some child's parents though it was a good idea to give their childs nursery a pair of baby rabbits. That's how it all started! The rabbits of course grew quickly and outgrew their tiny cage inside. My husband and I took pity on them and decided to build them a large pen outside. I also took the responsibility of feeding them and cleaning their space. They now had more space and were happier - but of course, they turned out to be boy and girl and one day, we found a nest of babies in the cage Smile It was extemely cute and lovely to watch them growing up - but of course, this is where the problems started! There was no budget to have them neutered, no space to separate them and when I pointed out these problems, the people responsible just shrugged or laughed at the idea of neutering rabbits.
Sadly, the whole family had a very tragic ending, as they started burrowing out of their pen and were killed by dogs. I buried them - I was in tears, I felt like they were my own bunnies...
The cage stood empty - until the day when the grandfather of another child decided to give the girl a baby duck for her birthday. Her parents probably had no idea what to do with the poor chick and gave it to the nursery for their cage. So now, there is a six month old Muscovy duck living there, all alone, fed on bread, basically neglected and with dirty water that sometimes isn't changed the whole week. I had decided not to get involved again, because the whole rabbit thing had been too painful, but I couldn't watch this. So now, I bring this duck more suitable food, change her water and keep her a little company when I can - she's extremely sociable (although probably not with other ducks...)
Then, one of the teachers of another nursery called me in a panic one morning - one of the piggies in their guinea pig cage had suddenly given birth and they had no idea what to do. I went there and met a scene of total devastation - two dead babies and several tiny placentas were scattered around the cage and the mother was being relentlessly chased by the other 3 - all males, as it turned out. I found one other baby who was still alive and separated it from the others together with the mother in a makeshift emergency cage. The baby was hardly alive though, it seemed very weak and the mother was obviously extremely stressed. It was just before I was supposed to go on a short holiday with my family. I begged the nursery teachers to take the guinea mum and baby to the vet - but obviously, they didn't do this and a few days later, I got a text to say the baby was dead.
It was so sad - I was badly bent out of shape. The teachers and children were also sad, but still nobody seemed to be inclined to take measures to make sure this wouldn't happen again... the female was returned to the cage with the 3 males and was for sure pregnant again by the time I returned. I also realised the 4 guinea pigs and 1 bunny in that cage were being fed only vegetables and fruits. I tried to explain to the teachers that they really needed hay, but was met my blank looks. They simply coulnd't understand that rabbits don't live on carrots. Nothing was done. So... I decided to start bringing the poor little things hay and fresh grass every morning.
The mummy piggy now is almost 2 months pregnant again and very big. I realise it is just lucky that we didn't loose her too the first time. I have found a nice hutch for her and separated her from the others - now it is simply a waiting game... I have all my fingers crossed for a better outcome this time.
On we go! I discovered another rabbit by our local horse paddock. There is a pigeon cage there and somebody had simply slipped her in. It doesn't look like she is being fed or looked after in any way. Fortunately, the birds have water on the ground so she can drink. My morning round now also consists of bringing grass and hay to this poor little thing.
For the rest, there are 3 chickens that someone is keeping in a tiny cage - they planned to have them free range but discovered they flew away that way. This person doesn't really want the chickens anymore and is looking for a better space for them.
Now I have an ambitious plan! Smile In my community, there is an old place where there once was a small pet zoo. It has been empty for about 5 years now. It was terribly overgrown and neglected, but I have gathered a lot of like-minded people (fortunately they are around here, too!) and we started to tidy up the place. It is wonderful to be doing something constructive! I plan to bring all the animals that now urgently need homes to this space and to have this in connection to the local nurseries/pre-schools, so they wont' need to keep animals in unsuitable spaces in their own play yards. (needless to say, these animals also haven't been vaccinated and receive no medical care - it is not a healthy situation for the children either...)
We have applied for financing from the council (something like that) and are now waiting for an anwer. We cannot house the animals there yet as the water and the fence need repairing, but I am impatient to give them all a better life and to start educating the children (and the teachers and parents!!) about proper care for and respect of animals. The entire space is I think about 10x25 meters. The outer perimeters are lined with cages of about 2x2 meters, where chickens and birds were once kept. Two adjoining cages are floored with cement. There is one large cage where peacocks used to live, but I am not planning on peacocks this time. There is a small duck pool lined with bamboo (this is what got so terribly out of hand - we had a hard time digging up the roots!).
For now, the prospective inhabitants of this little haven are 2 rabbits, 4 (maybe more) guinea pigs, 3 chickens and 1 muscovy duck Smile I plan to get them some company - more of the same - and maybe get some guinea fowl as well.
I have tried asking owners of other pet zoos for advice, I have also visited them... but found that their views are very different from mine. They raised their ducks on bread and let their rabbits breed freely, so some of them were walking around with bad wounds from fighting. This is not what I want. I want to feed them proper food and to get my animals neutered or keep only one sex.
The trouble is, although I have some experience and have done a lot of research, I will need all the practical advice I can get from people who have a similar experience and keep their animals in the way that I plan on keeping them. I can't find any information on something like this, as this is not a for-profit pet zoo and also not a hobby farm. I don't plan on 'raising' animals or selling them for meat. I plan to populate my place with rescue animals. My animals won't be inside pets, but also not farm animals.
I would really like to hear from anyone who has any advice for me, on what to feed a pregnant guinea pig to chicken housing or predator-proofing. Can the rabbits be kept semi-free range, outside of the smaller cages? Will the duck and chickens fly over the 2 metre fence? Is is a good idea to keep one female muscovy together with some ducks of another type..? Thanks so much to anyone who has managed to read my very long story to the end! Smile