The sanctuary at Ebbw Vale has been open for 14 years at the festival park site. The sanctuary is home to almost 60 different birds of prey from all over the world including Falcons, hawks and owls. The number of birds fluctuates as new birds arrive and wild birds that have recovered from their injuries are released. Unfortunately the majority of birds cannot be released into the wild as they are either captive bred or non-native species.
The sanctuary is owned by Malcolm Jones (photographed above with Ffion – a 12 week old South African Spotted Eagle Owl), a retired steel worker who has dedicated his life to the care and rehabilitation of birds of prey. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to rescue injured birds of any type. All their injured or wild birds are checked by a specialist bird vet.
The Sanctuary is mainly self funded from attending events at schools or fetes in addition to receiving limited public donations. The volunteers provide school educational visits, where children have the opportunity to learn about these magnificent birds: and some children will even get the chance to hold an owl. They also attend shows and fetes where a wide variety of owls, hawks and falcons are displayed that originate from all over the world.
Photographed above: with Sky, a female Harris Hawk, is volunteer Kayleigh Taylor who has helped out at the sanctuary over the past two years and Abersychan school pupil Georgia Elliott who was photographed on the first day of her week long work experience.
Volunteers care for all of the birds at the Owl Sanctuary and this includes the owner, Malcolm Jones who has over 50 years of experience of working with birds. There are other animals kept at the sanctuary such as (at the time of our visit) two Shetland Ponies and a large old tortoise named Speedy. Entrance is free of charge and visitors have the opportunity to financially support the work of the sanctuary (which has zoo status) through donations and a bird adoption scheme. (Nessy – the female Snowy Owl).
Monika Kudaseva, 24, from Newport (originally from Lithuania)is photographed (above) with Shadow the hawk. Monika said: ‘It was great to see the 100 birds they care for at the sanctuary and to hear how they often rescue sick and injured birds and where possible release them back into the wild.’