Alexia Bowers says she always clicked better with animals than she has with people.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that the 15-year-old turned her energy into running her own non-profit animal rescue at her Ruby Bay home.
And now her work has seen her receive the inaugural Te Tohu Maimoa award, from Companion Animals New Zealand, which recognises the work in helping such animals throughout the country.
The Little Animal Rescue officially opened in 2018, but Alexia had been saving animals since she was young.
“Even if you can help one animal it might not change the world, but it changes the world for that animal.”
She soon became known in her hometown as the girl who would take any injured animal into her care. From chickens to hedgehogs, birds, rabbits, sheep, pigs and fish, all wildlife was welcome.
“I have always struggled socially and so having an animal with me has always helped, they are very therapeutic for me, they have rescued me instead of the other way around.”
Alexia was only eight-years-old when she started her crusade for animal rights.
“After researching, I connected the dots between the eggs in the supermarket and the chickens on battery farms, so I put a petition online to stop the practice.”
Her petition received more than 1000 signatures and former Prime Minister John Key even replied to a letter she had written him.
Alexia’s campaign was successful, and legislation was passed for a minimum spacing requirement between farmed chickens.
Her journey since then has since seen her save thousands of animals and, in 2018,she set her sights on saving hens from slaughter.
“At 15-18 months old, they start laying a little less, so they aren’t as useful, and you don’t make as much profit.”
Because of this, every three or four months, hens are simultaneously culled in the thousands and thrown into pits or made into dog meat. This was a haunting reality for Alexia.
She began to contact farmers directly and request to take as many as possible.
Though the farmers did show an open mind, Alexia would need to pay $8 per chicken.
“It’s their livelihood, so I don’t judge them for that because it’s how they support their families. But if I was able to give the chickens a second chance I would.”
Using a horse float, Alexia was able to rescue 300 chickens at a time and rehome them.
Though rewarding, she admits that she can often suffer from compassion fatigue.
“It can get quite mentally exhausting because I’m going into the farms and seeing the chickens, I can get quite depressed and a bit angry so I try to space out my rescues so I can recover. My chickens are my babies so seeing all the other ones suffer is hard.”
Alexia already has a level three qualification in animal management and is currently studying a certificate in animal management with a focus on captive wildlife course through Unitech.
You can donate to the animal rescue here.