Wildlife rescuer reveals plans to inspire nation's children

This Is Local London: After saving fox, wildlife rescuer reveals plans to inspire nation's children After saving fox, wildlife rescuer reveals plans to inspire nation's children

Fresh from crawling down a dirty 20 ft manhole to save a trapped fox, a wildlife rescuer revealed grand plans to inspire the nation's children to care for wildlife.

After returning from the rescue in Weybridge on Thursday afternoon, Simon Cowell, founder of the Wildlife Aid Foundation, said they have teamed up with an ex-teacher to create teaching resources for the new 2014 curriculum.

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At his office in Randalls Road, Leatherhead, he said Wildlife Aid plans to launch a educational website with notes for teachers on wild animals, conservation and habitats in coming weeks.

Mr Cowell, the star of TV show Wildlife SOS, said: "Teachers will be able to click on it and all their teaching notes for that strand of that lesson will be in place.

"They have got to do no work bar click a button, and all the stuff they want is there. We are hoping from the back of that it will inspire children and inspire children to look more into wildlife issues.

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"If we get that out there to all the schools in the country, obviously we will start in Surrey and surrounding areas, hopefully they will bite on to it."

He said they are funding the project themselves and are looking for sponsors to raise £50,000 a year to keep improving the site with video clips, games, pictures and more resources.

He said: "It would be great if it becomes the go-to site for things to do with wildlife and conservation and habitat preservation."

Although the veterinary hospital continues its work, Mr Cowell said: "I have really come to the conclusion over the years that as important as doing this is the education of today's youngsters."

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Next to his desk there is a CCTV monitor showing the insides of cages and different parts of the centre, a rather Big Brother-style method of checking up on wild animals with minimal human intervention.

Enclosures for badgers, deer, foxes, birds of prey and barn owls are currently standing empty because fewer people are outdoors so less animals are reported being in distress during winter.

In others cages, hedgehogs are hibernating and pigeons are recovering from an assortment of ailments and problems including pink marker pen stains and calcium deficiency.

On Thursday in the operating theatre, a syringe was being used to draw out a creamy substance which has built up in the throat of a dove with an avian disease called canker.

The centre's most unusual patient at present is an otter, but two years ago Mr Cowell received a phone call about a lion club found in Zambia.

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He said: "Because of all the contacts I have got over the years, I was able to sit here and actually get that lion cub into a sanctuary within an hour."

A room for orphans is almost empty at present, but volunteer Myra Kinghorn said: "It will soon be full of baby squirrels, baby hedgehogs, everything. They will all have to be force fed."

Despite the continual need for more funds and volunteers to do everything from feeding animals and taking midnight calls to fundraising and working on reception, Mr Cowell remains indefatigable.

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He said: "Which comes first the environment or money? The more money we have, the more we can do. We have the passion and the enthusiasm, the more money we can put behind it that's great."

He added: "The only time I will give up is when someone finally screws the lid down on my coffin, and even then I will still be ranting."

Wildlife Aid, which was founded in 1980, has 300 volunteers and deals with more than 20,000 wildlife emergencies every year.

For more information or to donate visit www.wildlifeaid.org.uk.

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