What a decade! From a technical seal rescue, a challenging horse cliff incident – to a cat stuck on a roof with a crisp packet on his head – there are so many memorable RSPCA Cymru rescues from the past 10 years.
As 2019 draws to a close, RSPCA Cymru has taken a look back at some of the most remarkable rescues from the past few years by the charity’s dedicated inspectorate who work on the frontline around the clock – 365 days a year.
From all different animals of all shapes and sizes there are certainly too many rescues to name…..(but we’ve given it a go!)
A rescue at Mathry, Pembrokeshire hit the headlines earlier this year in April, where 65 sheep were rescued from the sea cliffs. The sheep were on cliffs around 70-80 metres high and had spread over a wide area in groups.
Several RSPCA specialist rope rescue teams and boat teams were deployed for the operation along with a mountaineering rope rescue expert.
There have also been many memorable – and challenging sheep rescues across the years. For example, in 2012 a stranded starving sheep was rescued from a quarry face ledge in Caerphilly. While in 2016, a sheep trapped on a ledge on the side of Tryfan Mountain in the Ogwen Valley of Snowdonia was rescued with the amazing rope rescue captured on camera.
While at several times over the past decade, hundreds of manx shearwaters have been rescued by the RSPCA after getting into difficulties during storms.
Cats and dogs have also got themselves into some sticky situations. A Swansea bulldog was rescued from a tight squeeze – after she got stuck between a rock and a hard place back in 2018 (a video can be found here). Back in 2017, an RSPCA officer caught a cat which was tumbling 40-foot to the floor from a towering tree in a remarkable Cardiff rescue.
While almost 100 puppies were rescued at Holyhead Port in the early hours of the morning back in November 2016, as part of an RSPCA-led, multi-agency operation tackling illegal animal importation. (video)
RSPCA Cymru’s Superintendent Martyn Hubbard said: “Our inspectorate have rescued thousands of animals across Wales over the past decade and have been there on the frontline to ensure animals of all shapes and sizes are protected and safe from harm.
“Looking back at some of these extremely challenging and demanding rescues – it really is fantastic to see all the animal welfare outcomes that have been achieved.
“For many of the rescues and operations we have worked with many different organisations and emergency services and we would like to thank everyone for their support helping animals in need.
“In addition, we’d like to thank the members of the public for being our eyes and ears and reporting animals in distress to us on 0300 1234 999.”
Here are a few the most memorable rescues:
Cliff rescue of horse Goldie – Carmarthenshire 2014
A Welsh mountain pony was successfully rescued from the base of a cliff in Carmarthenshire following a major two-day rescue operation involving the RSPCA, coastguard and fire service. Two-year-old gelding, “Goldie” had slipped 20 metres down a steep slope into an isolated cove at Marros near Pendine and was unable to get back up. Goldie was placed in a safety harness, and once sedated by the vet was quickly wrapped in heavy-duty tarpaulin which acted like a protective bag around him while he was slowly hoisted to the top of the slope. Once at the surface he was gently brought round and within 20 minutes was walking around as if nothing had happened!
Rare Kemp’s ridley turtle – Aberystwyth 2015
A very rare Kemp’s ridley sea turtle was rescued after it was washed up on Aberystwyth’s North beach in 2015. The RSPCA was asked by the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme to assist with the turtle that had been found by a member of the public on the beach. Rod Penrose from the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme identified the turtle as a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and transferred the turtle to the RSPCA. RSPCA animal collection officer Ellie West and and RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben then took the turtle to Bristol Aquarium who were happy to take her in for rehabilitation as they have experience with caring for stranded sea turtles. A video can be found here.
Mallard ducks caught in an oil spill – Corwen 2013
Hundreds of mallard ducks caught in an oil spill were rescued back in 2013. Most of the birds were heavily coated with a thick engine oil which was dumped in Glyndyfrdwy, Corwen, Denbighshire. In the care of the RSPCA the birds were washed with fairy liquid and then monitored to make sure they are ok. The birds were then kept in pools at the centre so staff could check they were waterproof and had no long-term effects from the oil. After they have been rehabilitated, the birds were released back to the wild.
Crisp packet cat – Haverfordwest 2015
It was certainly an unusual story that hit the headlines back in 2015! A cat was rescued after getting himself stuck on top of a Haverfordwest house – with a crisp bag on his head. RSPCA inspector Rohan Barker didn’t know how he came to have a crisp packet on his head – but may have been eating something from the bottom and then got himself into difficulty. The cat was coaxed into the inspector’s reach – and was brought to safety – with the crisp packet taken off his head, which had been quite firmly stuck.
Technical and complex seal rescue – Port Talbot 2017
Back in 2017 RSPCA Cymru led a multi-agency operation in November to save a seal that had become trapped amid heavy rocks and boulders by a sea wall in Port Talbot. Boulders weighing an estimated three tonnes had to be moved to secure access to the trapped seal – with an engineer manoeuvring a modular-type specialist lifting gantry to secure access. It was described by RSPCA inspector Nic de Celis as the “most technical and complex rescue” he had ever dealt with.
She was nicknamed Miracle by onlookers given the circumstances behind the rescue, and was later given the name Marina when in RSPCA care. After six months of care and support, Marina was released at Combe Martin on the North Devon coast last in May 2018. A video can be found here.
Gull covered in curry sauce – Newport 2016
There were plenty of puns when a rescue story hit the headlines back in 2016 – after a gull fell into a vat of cold Tandoori curry – which turned himself bright orange. After being removed safety and kept in a box until the RSPCA arrived, he was transferred to the vets for a check up and then taken to a wildlife hospital. After a good wash he went back to his usual colour!
Kingsnake found in a gas meter – Ebbw Vale 2018
An Ebbw Vale resident found an unexpected visitor at their home – after making the shock discovery of a three-foot snake in a kitchen gas meter. An animal collection officer attended the property to rescue the snake, and transferred to a specialist centre in the West Midlands – for ongoing care.
Mountain goat rescue – Llanberis Pass 2015
RSPCA Cymru rescuers came to the aid of a goat after he became trapped on a ledge at Llanberis Pass, Caernarfon. It was believed he had been stuck on a narrow ledge for around four days.
Inspector Michael Pugh said: “The goat started to climb down around three metres and then when the team got to him, he decided to jump the rest of the three metres. Luckily he made a good landing and walked off. Later on he was seen eating happily. “It would have been much better if we’d been able to carry him down safety – but mountain goats are wild and known to be unpredictable – and we are just pleased he managed to escape from his difficult situation.” A video can be viewed here.
Polecat rescue – Powys 2018
Powys Council staff welcomed an unusual visitor to their offices at Welshpool Youth Centre – with a polecat soon rescued and released by RSPCA staff. RSPCA inspector Phil Lewis safely collected the polecat, and returned the animal to the wild in nearby fields. He says returning wildlife to where it belongs can be “one of the most rewarding parts of the job”. Heart-warming video footage shows the moment the polecat returned to the wild.
If you have any animal welfare concerns or find an animal in distress please contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.
If you wish to help RSPCA Cymru, you can donate online. The RSPCA is a charity and relies on public donations.