IT has been a busy year for the RSCPA with more than 4,000 animals cared for at Taunton’s West Hatch Wildlife and Animal Centre in 2017 alone.

From seals to birds, cats to pigs, there’s no animal that doesn’t get a second chance at a better life from the hard-working staff and volunteers at the facility.

But the hard work doesn’t stop at Christmas, as it’s just another day for the animals.

“Christmas Day is like any other,” said Bel Deering, centre manager.

“The animals need to be cleaned and fed and treated – so our staff and volunteers have all the usual hard work ahead of them.

“To date in 2017 we have cared for 4,285 individual animals of 133 different species.

“We try to give every animal a second chance.”

Looking after the seal pups has become a big part of what the centre does.

Staff and volunteers are currently caring for more than 40 pups who have been orphaned or seriously injured.

The centre has set up a fundraising page in order to continue caring for the adorable sea mammals that are in need of help after surviving stormy weather.

Ms Deering said: “Each seal pup will be rehabilitated at West Hatch for two to three months and during this period we will spend on average £1,000 a week on fish to feed them.

“In addition to the fish costs, the majority of seals will receive a number of veterinary treatments from Metacam, Clinicin, Marbocyl, Noroclav and Rilexine.

“The wildlife centre currently has around 46 orphaned grey seal pups in care, along with 130 hedgehogs and a range of other species.

“We have had some very generous festive donations that will make a big difference – from multivitamins for the seals to mealworms for the hedgehogs.

“Our supporters help us to make sure every animal has what it needs over the festive season.

“We have been overwhelmed with donations from our Amazon Wish List, however, we are in desperate need of donations to put towards their very expensive fish and veterinary bills.”

One of the busiest times of year for the centre was in September, as stormy weather caused havoc for more than 300 birds across Wales and the West Country.

Ms Deering added: “One of our busiest times this year was back in September when wildlife staff and volunteers were suddenly called on to care for 303 Manx Shearwaters, rescued from the beaches of Wales and the West country after stormy weather.

“The birds arrived at the centre exhausted and battered but our fantastic team worked long days to ensure every bird was given the best possible chance.

“Manx Shearwater do not eat in captivity and the team had to tube feed hand-made fish soup to each individual up to four times a day.

“When the birds had gained weight and fitness they were washed, dried and put out on a pool before being released back into the wild.”

To donate to the centre’s seal pup programme visit

It costs the RSPCA £750 a day to run the animal centre.

The centre relies entirely from donations.

Elsewhere in the centre, other animals are hoping to find a new home for Christmas and 2018.

A lot of the animals are brought into the centre for welfare reasons where they receive medical and emotional support.

TV programme RSPCA Dog Rescuers sometimes features some of the cute dogs looking for their forever home after being rescued from some traumatic experiences, or if they have had to depart from their owners for reasons such as poor health.

Ms Deering said: “In our animal centre things are busy, too, with the centre full of dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, pigs and more brought to us by inspectorate colleagues.

“These animals all come in for welfare reasons and so often need veterinary and behavioural support to get them back on their feet and ready to find a new home.

“We are always happy when our animals find a new family – and especially so in the festive season.”

If you’re looking for a new furry friend, visit where you’ll find all the animals in the area that are looking for a new home. There’s dogs, cats, and even farm animals such as pigs looking for a lovely new family.

Volunteers giving up their time for free is essential to keep the place going.

“This year has seen us help animals that have come from some extreme situations of abuse and neglect,” Ms Deering added. “Our team of fantastic staff and volunteers have cared for around 600 individual domestic and farm animals and turned their lives around.

“We are always on the look-out for dog walkers, cat cuddlers and rat socialisers to make a difference for animals in 2018.”

To find out more about volunteering email