Former farm workers give homes to animals after charity forced to close

Volunteers described their homes as 'mini zoos' amid fears some animals face being put down due to soaring bills.

Former workers at crisis-hit Gorgie Farm are struggling with costs after taking dozens of small animals into their homes.

The 40-year-old community farm in Edinburgh has closed three years after it was saved from collapse due to soaring energy bills and a lack of funding.

Most of the animals were moved to neighbouring farms last month and are expected to stay there until March.

But big-hearted staff felt they had no option but to rehome the remaining 50 pets that had nowhere to go when the site shut two weeks ago.

Dozens of animals were left without a place to go

Chloe Hogg, 22, has worked and volunteered at the farm for more than a decade and has taken in five chinchillas, a goldfish, three geckos and a snail which join the pets she already owns.

“It’s my home as well, I don’t know how to describe it. We just want everyone back together,” she said.

“There was a care plan put in place for the large animals, so we thought [it was the same for] small animals too.

“It got to the last day and still animals needed rehomed, I couldn’t say no. I removed furniture I needed, and I cleared rooms so they could all be housed here.”

Chloe, who already owned two rabbits, two snakes and a bearded dragon, said it costs between £40 and £60 extra week to give the animals shelter.

“It’s electricity on top of heat masks, animal food which is about £10 a bag and will last about two weeks. They need specialised things, chew toys. It’s too much,” Chloe said.

“For myself and the heart I have for animals, I will always have food on their plates. I’ll just eat toast and give them their full forage mix. I will move myself out of this house before any animals leave.”

“I will not see those animals put to sleep so healthy.”

Last month Edinburgh councillors voted to use £250k of funding in a last-ditch attempt to save Gorgie Farm.

A number of organisations, including Edinburgh Zoo, have already signalled their interest in playing a part in its future.

But former staff fear if a decision over the farm’s future isn’t made soon, they will be forced to put healthy animals down.

Vet nurse Claire Woodburn said normal veterinary bills costs between “£200 and £300 a month” for the animals, with some in need of life-saving surgery.

Volunteers fear healthy animals may need to be put down if they can no longer afford costs

“We’ve all got mini zoos at the moment,” she said. “We have half the farm in our houses, and still looking after them and we can’t let them go.

“We don’t want to see any animal put to sleep. But who’s going to pay for it? We don’t have the money to do that. We have no jobs.

“We are in limbo. We just want the farm open again and we want them home.”

Jamie Raymond, 19, volunteered at Gorgie Farm for seven years and got a job at the farm at the end of 2021.

“I was just walking home after the announcement first went out. A guy came up to me, saw my uniform and just said ‘I’m so sorry’.

“When I was a volunteer I was shy. It’s been a good way to help me come out of my shell.

“It’s a lot more than just a farm. It means so much to so many people, even the public.”

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