herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

16-stone pig who lived in Dublin flat finds a roomier home at sanctuary

Napoleon the pig was bought as a micro-pig but kept growing, he was brought to the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Ballivor where he now lives happily
Napoleon the pig was bought as a micro-pig but kept growing, he was brought to the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Ballivor where he now lives happily
. Rav the fox is tame and now lives at the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Ballivor, Co Meath. Rav is pictured with her primary carer Anette Fri-man Orn, Swedish veterinary nurse
Kevin Cunningham pictured with some of the reptiles at the National Exotic Animal Sanctuary. Kevin established the sanctuary in 2008. Picture Ciara Wilkinson.

A 16-STONE pig which was living in an apartment in county Dublin is now happily enjoying a new home in a large pen at an animal sanctuary.

Christened 'Napolean', his original owners thought he was a micro-pig, but he kept on growing.

According to Kevin Cunningham, who established the National Exotic Animal sanctuary in 2008, he now weighs between 16 and 17 stone.

"He walks through fences, digs everything up and is not really a suitable pet to have in your apartment on your laminate floor," said Kevin.

He was surrendered to the sanctuary near Ballivor in Co Meath and is one of a large number of pigs they now care for and that are looking for suitable homes for.

Reptiles

In a separate section of the sanctuary there are reptiles and spiders including a number of spiders that were taken from a house in Carlow last year. One of them is a rare Peacock Tarantula that has just shed it's skin - a sign that it has grown again.

"It is about five inches wide and is peacock blue in colour and has yellow tips on her legs - a very unusual spider. They are endangered and are from India and I haven't seen one in Ireland before," Kevin said.

The person who had collected the spiders was breeding tarantulas and scorpions, he explained. Amongst them was a funnel web spider and a large number of African brown widow spiders.

Kevin said he was asked to go to the house and examine what was there.

When he opened one bedroom he found 120 tubs containing a variety of spiders and scorpions.

Many of the spiders and reptiles they have at the centre have been surrendered because their owners did not know what they were getting themselves into.

"They can for instance have bought a bearded dragon (a lizard) and don't realise that it needs calcium and UV light. Then it comes into us with metabolic bone disease."

He said the other reason exotic animals are surrendered is because of a change in circumstances. He recently had a man donate two boa constrictors measuring nine and a half feet because he now has a baby in his house.

"It was the sensible decision to make," Kevin said.

The centre costs €1,500 a week to run and is staffed by volunteers.

One of the volunteers is veterinary nurse Anette Fri-man Orn who is the primary carer for a young fox called Rav.

Rav was found by a farmer whose family fed her. She is now tame and unable to be released into the wild.

The sanctuary has open weekends starting on the 21st of this month and running until the end of September.

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