An animal lover from Bettystown who re-homes neglected and homeless animals has turned his passion into a venture that offers children a chance to get up close and personal with dozen of exotic creatures whilst raising funds to care for their needs.
Paul Bathe (60) who shares his home with parrots, lizards, snakes, giant hissing cockroaches, chinchillas, iguanas, water dragons, hedgehogs, tortoise, stick insects, dogs, spiders and giant toads to name a few runs Paul's Pet Parties, an alternative way to celebrate special occasions with a unique live animal experience.
"I have always had an interest in animals since I was a child," says animal enthusiast Paul, adding: "I grew up in the countryside and had chickens so from a very early age there were always animals around. My mother never knew what I was going to arrive home with next."
Paul Bathe rehomes neglected animals
"I started to re-home animals and brought them back to full health with veterinary intervention. In order to support their needs like food, heating, lighting and vet bills we came up with the idea of doing parties and it helps with their upkeep. Parrot's food is expensive and they all have vegetables every day. Some of the animals have to have live food like crickets and the snakes have to have mice so it's very expensive."
"We have animals everywhere, they all live in the house. We have turned one of the bedrooms into a reptile room. There are a number of parrots who live in the house and they all talk and we have converted some of the back garden into an aviary for the birds. Right now as I'm talking to you there are seven parrots with me here, two huskies and British bulldog. My wife, Sandra, luckily for me is very understanding and supportive, I couldn't do it without her."
For Paul, the health and safety of his animals is top priority and he ensures that all of the creatures are well cared for and comfortable in their environment. A recent veterinary inspection report on his house states that the animals are being kept in correct conditions based on their individual needs and adequately fitted with the necessary equipment. All cages are clean and close attention is being kept to hygiene and the physical and mental welfare of the animals is being met.
The animal lover is passionate about educating children about wildlife
Paul says that his pet parties make these exotic creatures tangible and real to children who would normally only get to see many of these animals on TV. His ability to build a rapport and connect with young people with special needs is another reason why he is in demand according to the passionate animal expert.
"Kids are just blown away because they are seeing animals that they would normally never see in real life. A mother of a boy with special needs came up to me after a party and said she had never seen him react and light up the way he did when he got to hold and touch the animals. I will never let an adult talk for a child. I speak directly to them. They respond to the animals but also respond to someone who treats them as who they are."
Children not only learn fun facts but Paul is also in the unique position to spread awareness of wildlife conservation efforts and his own role in rehabilitating hundreds of exotic animals over the years.
The Bettystown resident shares his home with animals, insects and amphibians!
"The damage that man is doing to the planet and animals has been well documented in the news so it's a good way of opening up that conversation with children. A young girl from Sweden has started a whole movement all over the world to stop adults from destroying the planet, this is the next generation that is going to be joining these movements when they grow up. The more education you can give kids the better.
"My granddaughter Lola is only six but she knows all about the animals and how to feed them, she's not afraid. Lola is well capable of standing behind the table and talking about the animals and it's just wonderful to see.
"I can only do what I can do with the animals I have. I'm never going to make a difference worldwide but I do to the animals we have. I know from when they arrived here to where they are at now, they are happy campers, safe and have a second chance in a good home."