Well this is very exciting, something completely new has arrived at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary this week. No, not Tafkap and Xirus just yet!

We are delighted to welcome the “Lockdown Sanctuary” to the Isle of Wight which has found a new forever home within our Wildheart Café.

Originally known as The Lockdown Zoo, the idea was conceived by Malvern based graphic designer Julie Thomas who created hundreds of unique creatures made from beads, buttons, broken pieces of jewellery….and plenty of imagination!

Julie explains:

“I was Facetiming our two young grandsons, Seb and Ralph at the start of the first Lockdown last year. They live in Bristol and were very regular visitors to Bristol Zoo before the beginning of the lockdowns last March. They told me that they were missing visiting the animals at the Zoo, and asked me if I would try to make a giraffe out of the buttons and beads. George the Giraffe was ‘born’ on March the 24th 2020. He proved to be a great success with them, and they then began requesting a different animal to show them every morning over Facetime. So I decided to create The Lockdown Zoo! It is so wonderful that something so joyous came out of our time in lockdown.”

Many of the creatures were inspired by various events that took so we have Cedric the Centipede who Julie created to mark the 100th birthday of Captain Tom Moore and a bespoke version of Brighstoneus Simmondsi – the new species of dinosaur discovered on the Isle of Wight earlier this year. Also in the collection is our very own Casper as well as some lemurs, tigers and meerkats.

When lockdown ended and the animals got their freedom back, Julie wanted to find a new forever home for the animals so we were absolutely delighted when she approached the sanctuary to join our own rescued animals here on the Isle of Wight.

Obviously we needed to create a very special space for their new home and were delighted to work with our good friends at Socialising Buddies in Sandown who sent an elite team along to the sanctuary to build the cabinets which now house The Lockdown Sanctuary. We cannot thank the team enough for all their help in making this project possible.

So we are now the proud home to over 150 beautifully crafted miniature animals and cannot thank Julie enough for entrusting us with her exquisite collection of animals. We would love you to come on down to the sanctuary and meet them.

Although none of the animals in our collection are for sale, Julie is available for commissions for animals of your choice – please speak to admissions when you visit for further details.