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Astrid and Juanita

Report and pictures by
Astrid Goddard

The picture to the right shows Astrid with Juanita Wilson in Mossburn's yard; they're holding ferrets Colin and Pippin while basset hounds Gussie and Barty look on.

I visited Juanita Willson at Mossburn Animal Sanctuary on the second of May to see how things were going a year after the successful fight to save the animals from the Foot and Mouth cull.

I asked Juanita about the situation at Mossburn today:

"A year down the line, Mossburn is pleased to be open again to the public. We're trying to give the centre a face-lift by the creation of 'Edinburrow' - a des res for rabbits and guinea pigs. This is because we're overwhelmed with the number of people who want to come and see the sanctuary that didn't die.

"Everything we do is on our own efforts, but we've had no encouragement from our local tourist board who, despite being informed last year of the international interest generated by Mossburn, said they could not afford to be seen supporting an attraction that was closed: The chief executive Norma Hart's own words! So I said what about 2002, 2003, 4, 5 ... there was no interest.

"We are financially strapped for cash because you can't recover a lost year, and the demand on our space for unwanted animals seems to have increased considerably.

Cilla the Mule

"For example, in the last three months we have taken in three goats, numerous rabbits and guinea pigs, two sheep, a ferret, three horses and a rather odd female mule called Cilla (left). Mules are always male, so this is a true oddity.

Asked about the present and future for Mossburn, Juanita believes that the fight is not yet over.

"The most important thing is that foot and mouth is not forgotten until we have answers to the, so far, unanswered questions about how and when and where and why?

"And I am personally backing Class Law because I think they are the firm most likely to succeed in unmasking the truth. And it's the truth we're interested in, not the money.

"The future needs to be spent stopping the power hungry government obtaining even more draconian powers and inflicting even more legislation unnecessarily on farms, sanctuaries and the like.

Mossburn farmhouse in the background

"I need to qualify the farms. There are factory farms producing meat under horrendously cruel conditions, but the people being targeted appear to be the caring farmers who are not factory farming."

Juanita showed me around. I visited Edinburrow, met the resident and guest animals, including the basset hounds, Gussie and Barty, which Juanita is looking after for someone else temporarily, ferrets Colin and Pippin, and Cilla the female mule, who is sure to be a major attraction for visitors!

The picture to the immediate right shows Mossburn farmhouse in the background. Below left is an overview of the front garden with its Edinburrow construction, while below right can be seen the intricacy of each of these miniature "homes", the grounds of which include little tunnels for the rabbits and guinea pigs (two of which are in the picture). Edinburrow is truly a work of art.

part of Edinburrow, des res for rabbits

The sanctuary is clean and beautifully kept, and the animals exceptionally well cared for. During my visit an osteopath was treating some of the horses for back problems. I am very impressed by the centre, by the standard of care, and of course by Juanita's dedication and love for the animals and the way she fought to save them.

However, Juanita emphasised: "It wasn't Juanita Willson, it was a team of people working together, we all helped to save them, it was everyone's efforts."

There is a memorial being built at the bottom of the front garden; it is to have a brass plaque added with appropriate words in memory of around eleven million animals that were unnecessarily killed in the government's Foot and Mouth cull last year.

Guinea Pig home

It will be a quiet place where people can remember.

The memorial is to be unveiled in a ceremony, when a personality can be found who is not frightened of the political ramifications of such a memorial.

So far, no one seems to be available...

The Mossburn website is at

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