Bunnies, piglets and goats to become star attraction at Wolverhampton centre
BOUNCING bunnies, an eagle-eyed owl and little piglets will soon charm waves of animal-lovers pouring into a city oasis.
A collection of new animal enclosures are beginning to pop up at Old Tree Nursery after thousands was gathered to bring in the creatures.
Derelict land used as a 'dumping ground' has been cleared to make way for seven enclosures after volunteers pushed for the transformed space.
Site manager Verity Steele said: "We are very excited. We have definitely gone down a bit of an animal direction at Old Tree because we have realised animals are not only popular with kids, they are quite therapeutic for our team members as well.
"It was thought this would be a more productive use of the area. We are hoping this will give us a wider appeal across the local area and continue to increase our presence as a destination for people who want a day out.
"We already get lots of young kids but it's about how we can keep them on site longer and give them something new."
The animal enclosures, which will also boast room for pygmy goats and chickens, are set to open next spring after the centre united with Oldbury's Lord Combustion Services.
A sponsored walk and summer fair helped the Pendeford centre bring in £2,000 for the new enclosures, while the electrical company gathered an extra £3,000 from its October ball.
It means vulnerable young people and adults will soon have the chance to learn new skills while coming into contact with the cluster of animals.
Mrs Steele, who has been at the helm of the Pendeford Hall Lane site since January, said: "Teaching for the children will be all about responsibility and what it takes to handle and animal, to keep it safe, to keep it healthy.
"If you are an inner city kid, you probably haven't ever come up close to a barn owl. It's a chance to get up close with these animals."
Old Tree Nursery supports adults with disabilities and learning difficulties - known as team members - by providing training and employment opportunities within its 5.5 acres of land.
Last December it was devastated by a burglary, with thieves pinching £1,000 earmarked for a Christmas party from a safe after forcing entry on to the site.
Mrs Steele added: "It was really hard. For team members who perhaps don't understand it as well, it was difficult to get them to move on from it and believe they weren't going to come in the next day and find there had been another burglary."