Make farmyard friends at vet hospital

Sarah Neville feeding one of the bunnies at the hospital.

A duck named Percy, a Springbok called Pop (short for Popcorn), goats Mango and Mabel, Angel the chicken, Dalton the duck and ponies Khoki and Kohl. These are a few of the rescue animals who have made a garden in a veterinary hospital their home. And you can visit them on the first and last Saturday of every month.

The spacious farmyard garden is in the heart of Constantia. Georgina Wall, the receptionist at the Alphen Veterinary Hospital says they encourage parents to bring their children to nurture a love for animals.

On Saturday September 3, James Blackstock said he wanted to see the springbok. His mother, Chantel Blackstock, said the family had just returned to Constantia from England and her boys had never seen springboks before.

Ms Wall said Pop came from a herd where he had been bullied by other males. “Reintroduction was tried again into another herd, but he was still bullied so he came back where he bonded with our previous legend of a goat, Charlotte, and the reason we then adopted more goats after she died,” she said.

The goats Mango and Mabel were adopted from the SPCA at the start of this year.

In a separate enclosure, ponies Khoki and Kohl, also known as Trompie, were being groomed by Kate and Sarah Neville. Younger brother Robbie entered the enclosure in the arms of mom Emma Neville, holding a plastic bag with an apple inside. Khoki’s nose twitched as he followed the smell to devour the fruit.

Ms Wall said Khoki is on a home lease and Kohl is a rescue from up the West Coast. “His elderly owner died and he was then neglected. The ponies are walked on a regular basis to the greenbelt or nearby field where they receive a lot of attention from the public.”

Kate and Sarah then fed carrots to the bunnies, all rescues, some from situations where they were at risk from dogs in the home, and some adopted from Noordhoek Bunny Rescue. Dalton, a black-and-white bunny, hopped from the opposite side of the garden to get in on the action. According to Ms Wall, he is top of the bunny hierarchy. All are sterilised.

The guinea fowl arrived as eggs, brought to the hospital in an ice-cream container and rescued from a nest by builders when land was being cleared at a nearby construction site.

“We popped them under the chickens in the coop, and shortly after, the eggs hatched and we had 14 guinea fowl babies who thought they were chickens. They have all stayed.”

The chickens are named, but are too many to mention although Angel, the black one, is a favourite and allows herself to be carried around. Most are rescues and the eggs they lay in their coop are shared among the staff.

The most recent addition is the duck, Percy, adopted from Michelle du Toit, of Barefoot Rescue in Tokai.

Some of the squirrels are those that have stuck around after being hand raised.

And there’s an olive thrush called Ollie who was raised in the office and has also stuck around.

Ms Wall said naming of any creatures that go into the garden is done through a voting system among staff and sometimes through the hospital’s social media to keep things fair. This also makes for some laughter, she said.

Dr Hamish Currie started the Village Animal Clinic in Constantia Village in 1987. A few years later, it moved to the current premises in Constantia Main Road and was renamed the Alphen Veterinary Hospital. The farmyard is also open during school holidays during the week and there’s a jungle gym for children and a coffee machine for parents. Call 021 794 1522.

Simon Manda of the veterinary hospital with James Blackstock feeding Kohl the pony.
Simon Manda of the veterinary hospital with, from left, James Blackstock, Sarah Neville and Alexander Neville, feeding Mabel and Mango.
Making friends with Mango the rescue goat, from left, Alexander and James Blackstock and Sarah Neville.
A balancing act… Simon Manda of the veterinary hospital with Mabel the rescue goat.