These 13-year-olds saved 400 hedgehogs by building their own garden hospital

Facebook | Hedgehog friendly town

When then-9-year-old U.K. students Sophie Smith and Kyra Barboutis heard that hedgehog populations were in decline in their country, they decided to do something about it. The two girls created garden sanctuaries for hedgehogs in their own backyards in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, and converted their sheds into mini-clinics.

Now, four years later, they have cared for more than 400 hedgehogs in their self-created “hospital,” known as Hedgehog Friendly Town.

“We rescue, rehabilitate and then release the hedgehogs back to the wild,” reads the “About” section of their website. “We also go to events and do talks to try and raise awareness of how hedgehogs are suffering and what people can do to help.”

They have a Facebook page, where you can follow all their adventures caring for hedgehogs, giving educational talks and being interviewed by the media.

Hedgehog Friendly Town

How did two young schoolgirls get involved with such an inspiring project with animals?

“We couldn’t afford to go on holiday that year,” Kyra’s mom, Helen Barboutis, explained to HuffPost about the program’s start as a summer activity. “Kyra said, ‘What am I going to write about when I go back to school next year?’ It started as that.”

Now 13, Sophie and Kyra are still hard at work caring for the hedgehogs. They’ve even learned to do a lot of medical procedures themselves. The two also care for hoglets  — baby hedgehogs  — which require feedings around the clock.

“We stay up until 11 p.m. and get up at 5 a.m. to feed,” Kyra told the Daily Mail. Their moms help them out by doing the feeds at 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., and also come home during lunch to do another feed as well.

Hedgehog Friendly Town

The girls say both their teachers and parents are supportive of the project, and Sophie and Kyra pay for their expenses (food, equipment, and medication) through fundraising and donations from local businesses. Local veterinarians give them medical assistance. Their work even gained them the attention of broadcaster and historian Sir David Attenborough — he responded to a letter Kyra and Sophie sent him to thank them for their efforts.

The way they see it, they’re just doing their part.

“Our world is falling apart,” Kyra said in the Daily Mail. “If our generation doesn’t help, there won’t be a future for us. If everyone did something like this, I think our wildlife would stand more of a chance.”

These teens are definitely making a difference! We can’t wait to see what’s in store for their future.

Animals, Science & Nature, Wild Animals

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About the Author
Kate Streit
Kate Streit lives in Chicago. She enjoys stand-up comedy, mystery novels, memoirs, summer and pumpkin spice anything. Visit Scripps News to see more of Kate's work.

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