A SELF-EMPLOYED Stourbridge woman who runs a successful animal encounters business has issued a desperate plea for help to look after her animals amid the Covid-19 crisis which has prevented her from working.

Angie Blake, who set up Animal Antics 16 years ago to provide hands-on educational animal encounters for children at schools, nurseries, community groups, birthday parties and other events, says new tougher restrictions introduced to help slow the spread of coronavirus mean she is unable to work.

She told the News: "Due to Covid-19 I have been unable to trade since April and have been trying to support the welfare of the animals by working as a social carer, receiving the self-employed Covid grant and the generosity of friends and family.

"Unfortunately, the latest change in rules means that I am unable to start back with work due to the rule of six - making it impossible to attend parties etc.

"Schools and nursing homes are not booking due to managing their risk factors.

"With the end in Government financial support and the restriction that stops me from carrying out any work I am now in the awful position of not being able to fund the keeping of the animals."

Angie, of Wollaston, has nearly 100 animals so that she can rotate the creatures she takes out and about and "provide them with rest and not tire them out".

Stourbridge News:

Her menagerie includes owls, parrots, chinchillas, rabbits, hedgehogs, a hamster, skinny pigs (naked guinea pigs), sugar gliders, a genet, giant snails, tarantulas, giant millipedes, turtles, tortoises, snakes, lizards, geckos, bearded dragons, tree frogs and lots of bugs - and she also has two dogs.

She said: "We take on rescues and often find animals abandoned at our door step."

But she is now growing worried for the welfare of her beloved animals and she said: "We have now ran out of savings and - with the end of Government support - without donations we can't see a way to carry on.

"All of the animals I have a special bond with which has developed over spending hundreds of hours with them. I will do everything I can to keep them all."

As well as schools, Angie also under usual circumstances takes the animals to meet children with special needs and elderly people with dementia in residential care homes which she said has been "very rewarding".

Desperate to keep her animals and the business she has worked hard to build up, she has now launched a JustGiving online donation page and she is hoping kind-hearted animal lovers and generous members of the public may help her to raise £3,500 which she says would help to cover the costs of feeding and caring for her menagerie of creatures for around two months.

Anyone able to help and wishing to make a donation can do so online on justgiving.com (search Animal Antics). So far she has raised just over £500.

To find out more about the business go to angiesanimalantics.co.uk or Angies Animal Antics on Facebook.