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Researchers in Christmas Mercy Mission to Replace Cyprus' Last Pet Ferret

McNicholas, June Dr. Psychology
Dr June McNicholas
with the ferrets

Originally published 18 December 2002

Two University of Warwick psychology researchers are leading a Christmas mercy mission to replace the last pet ferret in Cyprus.

University of Warwick researchers Dr June McNicholas and Dr Glyn Collis have researched the relationship between owners and their pets for over ten years. Their widely reported research has looked at the health benefits of owning a pet, the support older people have from pets, and the rise in ownership of ferrets and rabbit as pets.

One of their studies of people visiting a Coventry animal shelter, found that over one third of people actively seeking a pet did so within one month of the death of a previous pet. Reasons given were frequently that of needing to restore an important aspect to lifestyle as well as a desire for the relationship with the individual pet.

But what happens when a pet dies and there is little chance of getting another? This is what happened to Cyndi, a 46 year old English lady living in Cyprus. Her very much loved pet ferret, Giggles, was the only one on the island and her unexpected death left Cyndi distraught. Cyndi turned to the UK for comfort. Julie Stoodley, who runs Sleaford Ferret Rescue in Lincolnshire, became a regular email correspondent with Cyndi, offering advice and support drawing directly on the University of Warwick research. Then Julie Stoodley contacted Dr June McNicholas at the University of Warwick , and a plan was hatched.

The best solution was at hand in the Rescue Centre. Two abandoned young ferrets in need of a loving home - what could be better than to unite them with a bereft owner?

In a secret plan of action Julie and June went about trying to make it happen, becoming deluged in the bureaucracy of import and export certifications. But all is now finalised and the ferrets fly on a BA flight to Cyprus on Wednesday 18th December, in time to arrive for Cyndi’s birthday on the 22nd and, of course, Christmas. Sadly, it wasn’t possible to keep the plan secret from Cyndi as the airline insist the new owner collects the ferrets from the airport. However, there is a surprise in store for her. Julie, who did most of the hard work to make it happen, will be at the airport to meet Cyndi for the first time and to settle the new arrivals.

And how was it made to happen? A combination of the recognition of the importance of pets in people’s lives; the generosity of Supreme Pet Foods who helped with the flight costs; the National Ferret Welfare Society who took care of the veterinary costs, and many individuals who made donations to the plan. These are certainly two young animals for whom ‘a pet is for life, not just for Christmas’.

For further information contact:

Dr June McNicholas
University of Warwick
tel 01854 633796