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Popular ads a boon for pet firm.

THE popularity of a national TV advertising campaign has given a boost to a North East animal-based business.

The success of Aleksandr the Meerkat in the Compare the Market adverts has increased interest in the small mammals.

Meerkats are natives of Africa's Kalahari Desert, but can now also be found at a pet shop with a difference in Ashington.

Animal Tracks - which has recently moved into the town's North Seaton Industrial Estate after originally starting out in a garden centre - has two meerkats among its collection of unusual reptiles, birds, fish and mammals.

The business, set up by Jason Seymour and Helen Edwards from Bedlington, is now in a custombuilt store to suit the needs of the animals.

The couple, who have also linked up with local vets Robson and Prescott and zoos all over the world, say the welfare of the animal is more important than making a sale.

Ms Edwards said: "It's not about the sale - it's about the welfare of the animals.

"We have to ensure that, once the animal leaves the shop, it will be properly looked after, and that includes feeding it with the right food and making sure that it lives in the right environment."

Whoever buys the two hand- rearerd meerkats will have to prove they can look after them properly - including being able to source live food they love, such as locusts.

Go Wansbeck enterprise coach Karl McCracken, who worked with the couple to set up the business, said: "They have demonstrated that they can grow the business at the same time as making a real difference to the animals both under their care and those that they have re-homed."

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COOL KATS Helen and Jason with, centre, Karl McCracken.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 28, 2009
Words:289
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