A Nairn charity that rescues and re-homes unwanted exotic animals has secured its own longer-term future.
Scottish Exotic Animal Rescue (SEAR) has been gifted its current base in the town’s Harbour Street to continue its work.
The charity was founded by Nick Martin in 2010 and has since found new homes for well over 100 snakes, lizards and other species.
It is currently looking after 59 reptiles and various invertebrates.
What species does the charity look after?
The bulk of the reptiles it rescues are bearded dragons, corn snakes and Royal pythons which are commonly kept as pets.
More unusual rescues are animals that have accidentally made their way to the UK in shipping containers, supermarket goods and luggage.
These can include exotic frogs, toads, insects, spiders, scorpions and geckos.
As well as saving and finding new homes for animals, SEAR carries out visits to schools, community groups and other locations.
It also offers work experience and volunteering opportunities to young people, many of whom have additional support needs.
Due to ill health, Nick has stepped down and has passed the running of the charity to his protégé Chris Evans, who started at SEAR seven years ago through its work experience programme.
Originally the charity operated from Cantraybridge near Croy.
But for the past five years it has been based in a former shop at 10 Harbour Street, Nairn owned by Neacreath Ltd, a local marine and property consultancy.
The building’s owners, George and Tanya Macleod, have now gifted the premises to SEAR.
Growing trade in exotic animals
Nick said: “After growing up in New Zealand, I’ve spent my life travelling the world dedicated to studying fascinating animals.
“Over the last several years the trade in exotic animals has increased and, unfortunately, the number of these amazing creatures who are abused and neglected has also risen dramatically.
“Thanks to the support of George and Tanya providing us with rent-free premises for the last five years, and now this generous gift of the building itself, our charity can hopefully continue to help exotic animals in need all over the country, educating people on how to look after them better and sharing their magic with children across the Highlands.”
Neacreath Ltd managing director George Macleod said SEAR’s work is “inspirational”.
He said: “(It is) helping not only the animals they rescue, but also many young people with additional support needs, who thrive when brought into contact with animals, and others who have been supported into the world of work by the opportunities the charity offered them.”
Fellow Neacreath director Tanya Macleod added: “Founder Nick Martin’s work over the years has been outstanding and gifting the premises to the charity seemed like a fitting legacy and an excellent way to provide some stability in the current challenging financial conditions.”