Animal lover sets off for Bolivian adventure

She has suffered from a skin allergy to cats, dogs and mosquitoes for years. But this autumn a Bath-born adventurer will be putting her fears to one side and heading across the Atlantic to work at an animal sanctuary in Bolivia.

Victoria Stent, 23, will be working with more than 200 monkeys, dozens of birds, tortoises, coatis and wild cats.

All the animals in the Inti Wara Yassi sanctuary were illegally poached and kept in private homes, hotels or circuses before being given a home in Bolivia where they can live out their days in comfort.

Ms Stent, who currently works in classified advertising at IPC Media in London, grew up as an animal lover and it was only when she left home that she developed an allergy to animal fur.

Her parents, Derek and Norma, help train guide dog puppies, and Ms Stent grew up loving young and energetic dogs.

As a child she also spent time fundraising for the Bath Cats and Dogs Home, and now she plans to give more time to animals who need her help.

Ms Stent hopes her immune system will adjust when she gets to Bolivia but as a safeguard has stocked up with £75-worth of allergy remedies.

"I am giving up my job in London in October to work voluntarily at Inti Wara Yassi with the hope that I can make a small contribution to this incredibly worthwhile cause," she said.

Among the animals Ms Stent will come into contact with over the winter is a young puma called Gato.

When he was a cub, the puma's mother was hunted and he was snatched from the wild and sold to a circus.

He spent a year there chained to a stake and was trained to jump through rings of fire.

Ms Stent said: "When he failed to perform he was beaten so severely that his back legs were broken."

Gato's story, though tragic, is typical of animals at the sanctuary, which receives no support from the government and needs volunteers to survive.

With this in mind Ms Stent is hoping to take over vital equipment when she travels in October.

She is appealing for anybody with medical supplies, microscope slides, dry primate food, small nylon dog collars, non-spill food bowls, small dog kennels, pet carriers, water pumps, wellingtons, buckets and two-way radios to contact her on [phone numbers removed as shipment has departed].

Ms Stent said she hoped to remain abroad for four to six months and would like to be able to volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand and with endangered turtles in the Indian Ocean if she has enough time and money left after Bolivia.

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Friends of Inti Wara Yassi (FIWY) is our sister organization in the UK. They have been a major source of support since their founding in 2008. Find out more about FIWY here.

Quest Overseas organizes gap year trips for British and international students. Since 2001, Quest has worked with CIWY to bring much needed volunteers and funds. If you are interested in the programs they have with us, find out more here.

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