Campaign to raise £75k for big cat with failing eyesight at wildlife park near Skegness

Steve Nicholas with a recovering Nigel.
Steve Nicholas with a recovering Nigel.

An appeal has been launched to raise £75,000 to provide a big cat with a big following at a wildlife park near Skegness with a specialist enclosure in light of his failing vision.

The fundraiser in aid of Nigel the Puma, one of the stars of Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, in Friskney, follows a health scare for the animal – one which attracted large-scale concern from his fans via social media.

Nigel during his treatment.

Nigel during his treatment.

A foreign object in his digestive system left Nigel – who has a congenital eye disorder – severely ill last week, with him refusing food and drinking little.

It would go on to see him receive care from Fenwold Veterinary Practice and with the help of a major enema, Nigel was able to pass the object; what it was, is not clear – but it was very sharp, with bits of bone in it, and about the size of a golf-ball-and-a-half, says the park’s chief executive Steve Nicols.

“We can’t identify exactly what it was,” he said.

While Nigel is now getting back to his former self, the advice sought during the ordeal has highlighted something the park already knew – that to provide Nigel with long-term care, steps need to be taken in light of his deteriorating vision.

With this in mind, and following the outpouring of sympathy for Nigel during his health scare, an online appeal has been set up to raise funds to provide him with a sensory enclosure.

The fundraising target is £75,000 – made smaller thanks to Evergreen Construction, in Skellingthorpe, offering to donate its time to the build.

In the first days of the appeal, almost £1,000 has been raised, with Skegness’ Hildreds Centre being another organisation which is also lending its support to the project.

Mr Nichols described the public support for Nigel as ‘amazing’, saying: “People genuinely do love him.”

The aim with the enclosure will mean, in Mr Nichols words, Nigel ‘can spend the rest of his life in absolute luxury’.

Time is a factor, as five-year-old Nigel will need to have settled into the setting before his sight gets too poor, to avoid unnecessary stress. The park plans to use scent marked points to give him a picture of the enclosure before he loses his eyesight altogether.

The facility will feature underfloor heating, built-in weighing scales, with the indoor area large enough to carry out medical procedures, should he require further treatment.

Find the appeal at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/parrotzoo/helpnigel