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Reindeer bring festive cheer at Wildwood
Staff at Wildwood, Kent’s unique British Wildlife park and conservation charity, are getting into the Christmas spirit with the arrival of two stunning reindeer.
The festive pair, a mother and daughter from the West Midlands Wildlife Park, are the latest additions to Wildwood’s extensive collection of native and once-native British Wildlife.
Peter Smith, Wildwood’s chief executive said “We are delighted to have reindeer at Wildwood; they are a fine example of a once-native animal that has been lost to the UK. We hope they will both delight our visitors and inspire them to help us in the fight to save our native wildlife.”
The mother is a four year old called Holly, whilst her daughter is yet to be named. Wildwood will be asking their supporters to choose a suitable name for the youngster, although given the yuletide theme, staff suspect that this may be a forgone conclusion!
Reindeer lived in the UK until around 8000 years ago before becoming extinct, most likely due to hunting pressure and climate change. Today the only wild reindeer in the UK are to be found in the Cairngorms, where a herd was re-introduced in the 1950’s. Globally, reindeer numbers have dropped nearly 60 percent in the last three decades due to climate change and habitat disturbance caused by humans.
Wildwood hopes that the new arrivals will not only spread some festive cheer with visitors this Christmas but will also act as a reminder of the importance of wildlife conservation.
Did you know?
Wildwood announces Pine Marten Appeal Grand Raffle!
Our Grand Christmas raffle will be drawn at our Festive Fun Night on Saturday, 14th December 2013 at 5pm and has fantastic prizes!
All profits go towards building new pine marten breeding enclosures at Wildwood.
Tickets are on sale now at £1 each (£5 a book) – Purchase from the Wildwood shop or call 01227 712 111.
If you can help by selling tickets to your friends, family or social group - please call 01227 712 111 for more details.
Adult keeper for a day experience
Child keeper for a day experience
Meet a pine marten experience
Meet a snake experience
Meet an owl experience
Meet a polecat experience
Framed wild animal photo – taken by our resident photographer
Ferry crossing with DFDS Seaways for a car and up to 4 passengers
A meal for 2 at Michael Caines Restaurant at the Abode, Canterbury (value £50)
Falconry Experience day with Falconry South East
Meal vouchers for any Wildwood restaurant (value £60)
Go-karting session at Buckmore Park (suitable for ages 16+)
A meal for 2 at Smugglers Retreat, Ramsgate (includes a bottle of wine)
Family ticket to Cinderella pantomime at Theatre Royal, Margate (29th December, 5.30pm)
Family day ticket to Leeds Castle
2 Odeon cinema tickets
4 tickets to Hever Castle
1 day ticket to Diggerland (+ entry discount for other group members)
2 hours paintballing at Quex Paintball for 5 people, includes 50 paintballs
Family Swim at Maidstone Leisure
Shellac manicure at Salon Chique
Hot stone massage at Salon Chique
Luxury gift set from Fenwick
15.6v drill from Wickes
Large Hornby Scalextric set
Wildwood Trust would like to thank all the above organisations for their generous donations to our raffle.
Sleepy dormice and secretive hedgehogs on display at Wildwood.
Wildwood is celebrating the long awaited opening of its new Nocturnal House; a specially designed centre that will allow visitors to see animals that would usually be sound asleep during opening hours.
The building, Funded by Biffa Award, is part of a larger project to expand Wildwood’s work to conserve the hazel dormouse and offers visitors a rare opportunity to observe hazel dormice and other nocturnal small mammals for the first time, and to increase awareness of the conservation threats faced by these animals and how we can address them.
Visitors will be able to see rare and endangered small mammals that are otherwise very difficult to see during daylight hours such as hazel dormice, hedgehogs, wood mice and edible dormice.
The Nocturnal House is Wildwood’s most ambitious project yet and the complex design of the building combined with the needs of the animals meant that the project had its fair share of setbacks. The building itself was completed at the end of 2012 but thanks to our unusually cold spring, it had to wait for its inhabitants to wake up from an extended hibernation period. Then the animals needed a period of adjustment in order to get used to being awake during the daytime as building features a unique lighting system that simulates daylight overnight and then fades to darkness during the days, but finally the building and animals are ready for visitors to the park.
Wildwood’s CEO Peter Smith said; “We are thrilled with the new Nocturnal House, and the team have persevered to get this complicated project up and running. It’s great for Wildwood, as although most people have heard of dormice, few people will ever see one. Now we can educate people about these beautiful creatures and why it is so vital that we save them from extinction”
Sally Barnes, of Wildwood’s Keeper team, who has been looking after the Nocturnal House said “The building is great, with spacious natural enclosures and the lighting system is working extremely well, we have already had many delighted customers who have seen their first ever dormouse, which is really exciting.”
The Biffa Award grant also included funded the building of new dormouse breeding enclosures to expand Wildwood’s capacity for breeding hazel dormice for reintroduction programmes. Over the course of the project 32 hazel dormice have been bred at the park, some of which will remain at Wildwood to boost the Trust’s captive breeding population at Wildwood, with the others being reintroduced to areas of the UK where they have become extinct in releases facilitated by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species.
The nocturnal house will also be used during Wildwood’s conservation training courses, such as dormouse ecology and conservation, to give people the opportunity to observe these creatures as they would be in the wild, and improve their skills in species identification.
New-born wildcat kitten offers hope for a species on the verge of extinction in the UK
Wildwood Keeper Sally Barns said:
“It been such a privilege to protect this precious wildcat kitten, to nurse such an amazing animal and have the honour to protect such a rare creature has been the high point of my career. The team have are working around the clock to ensure its survival and we are so proud that she is in excellent health.”
Peter Smith Wildwood Trust’s Chief Executive said:
“Wildwood Trust has been working in collaboration with scientists and wildlife experts to help understand the problems of wildcat extinction and have been campaigning for their protection. Working with geneticist Dr Paul O'Donoghue of The University of Chester, Wildwood has been assisting in developing a genetic test to identify pure bred wildcats.”
“If we are to rescue wildcats in the wild we must make a radical shift in land use in our wilderness and upland areas. Overgrazing by sheep and deer are the real cause of the loss of the Caledonian forest that is the main reason behind the wildcats’ demise. A radical shift in abandoning subsidies to agriculture, shifting taxation onto land values and a change to land ownership laws are desperately needed if we are to protect these animals. One of the best things we can do to protect wildcats is to re-introduce Lynx back to the UK, lynx will disperse the unnaturally high concentrations of deer held by shooting estates in Scotland and allow the natural regeneration of the Caledonian forest.”
Visitors to Wildwood can see the kitten’s parents, Carna, and ‘RJ’, but it will be a while before the new-born will be on show to the public. Once the kitten has been weaned she will be returned to her enclosure on public view in the park.
Baby beaver is just in time for new Welsh beaver release project
An adorable new-born baby beaver was shown to the public for the first time today at the Wildwood Trust, Kent’s unique British wildlife park & conservation charity.
The birth of the beaver kit, as they are known, is a momentous event for Wildwood as the cuddly little ball of fluff is set to join one of the biggest conservation projects in the UK.
The beaver will become part of a bold and innovative conservation programme which will see beaver reintroduced to a whole river system in Wales. This ground breaking conservation project is designed to protect and restore wetland habitats.
Wildwood Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust, who first brought the European beaver into the UK in 2001, have pioneered the use of beaver as a wildlife conservation tool. The success of this project has inspired a number of other projects and in this latest project Wildwood will be working with the Welsh Wildlife Trusts on the biggest scheme yet to return this once native species to Britain.
The baby beaver’s parents were given to Wildwood Trust as gift by the German Government and they became famous across the UK as their journey to Wildwood was documented in a special two-part programme shown on BBC Countryfile.
Visitors to Wildwood can get the chance to see the new beaver for themselves along with the rest of our beaver family in our specially designed walk-in beaver lodge.
Wildwood’s dormice prepare to head out to the wild in Wildwood’s latest release programme
Whilst people in the UK are hiding under their duvets to escape the wintry weather, the sleepy dormice at the Wildwood Trust are being woken from their slumber for an important mission to help save their species from extinction.
The tiny creatures, all bred at Wildwood, are part of the Trust’s captive breeding programme designed to repopulate areas of the UK where dormice have become extinct.
Once woken and checked by the Wildwood Conservation team, the group of 11 young dormice will leave their Kent home and go to either Paignton Zoo or London Zoo (members of the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group) for full health checks and be paired up with specially selected partners who will accompany them out to the wild.
The release, to be carried out at a secret location, is a joint venture between the Wildwood Trust, The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), Paignton Zoo, The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Natural England. As the studbook holder (record keeper) for hazel dormice in the UK, Wildwood has a vital role in this project not only by breeding dormice for the release but also in allocating suitable partners for the dormice from other zoos.
Hazel Ryan, Wildwood’s chief conservation officer said, “We are very excited to be part of this project to reintroduce the Hazel Dormouse back to areas where they have become extinct. Wildwood is not only one of the leading dormouse breeders in the UK but is also an important centre for research into the behaviour and captive husbandry of the species.”
“The hazel dormouse is now classed as extremely vulnerable to extinction but through projects such as this, Wildwood hopes to tip the balance back in favour of the dormouse.”
Heritage Lottery Trainee positions available
Wildwood is now inviting new applications for our 2012/13 Skills for the Future training programme. After two hugely successful years which have seen trainees go on to start careers in wildlife, zoos and conservation we are ready to recruit our next batch of trainees to learn wildlife and conservation skills.
Tess Kingham, Wildwood’s Fundraising Manager said "It’s so exciting to be able to give people a chance to train in wildlife and conservation. In the current economic climate it can be difficult for people to get hands-on work experience, but thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund we can offer vital work experience and training for people to take on to their future careers”
The 3-year project is funded by a £150,000 grant by the Heritage Lottery fund under their Skills for the Future programme. The grant is funding the training of four trainees per year, over a period of three years, with each trainee receiving a training bursary of £10,000 for the year they train with us.
The scheme is great for zoos, wildlife trusts and conservation organisations such as The Wildwood Trust which require a wide range of skills from staff, from providing public education workshops to managing woodland and conservation areas and supporting endangered species captive breeding programmes. These skills are hard to obtain without on-the-job training, so the Skills for the Future programme has been developed to offer specialised training places. After this final year, Wildwood will have provided training for three trainee rangers, three trainee keepers, three conservation trainees, and three trainee education officers.
The project will allow Wildwood to train new people in wildlife and conservation skills which will provide a sustainable, representative workforce to protect the UK's native animals and habitats from further decline. On completion of their training the trainees will be able to take their skills on to further education or into employment.
Ranger trainees will learn coppicing and coppice management, woodland management, dead hedging, arboriculture, endangered species enclosure design and construction.
Conservation trainees will learn about conservation initiatives including endangered species release programmes, conservation grazing management, handling small animals and engaging the public in species recognition.
Keeper Trainees will learn endangered species enclosure design, animal enrichment, food preparation, diet and weight analysis, and animal husbandry.
Conservation Education trainees will learn how to develop and deliver workshops targeted at visiting schools and groups, and will develop skills including preparing educational resources, setting and monitoring traps, species recognition, and how to handle small animals for workshops.
The posts are for one year only and are aimed at those interested in following a career in conservation. The successful candidates will be expected to complete a portfolio of evidence of the skills they have learned. The training will provide the groundwork and experience required for those considering either further academic training (e.g. a conservation degree, or diploma) or developing their career by joining a zoo, wildlife trust or other conservation organisation.
Further details about the training positions and how to apply can be found on our jobs page: http://www.wildwoodtrust.org/recruitmentothervacancies.html
The deadline for applications is the 7th September 2012
Red squirrels born at Wildwood
Visitors to Wildwood are in luck this week with the first sightings of our baby red squirrels.
The four new babies are now venturing out of their nest boxes for the first time and are Wildwood's first brood this year. After maturing at the park they will be released as part of Wildwood's red squirrel conservation project aimed at preventing their nationwide extinction by re-introducing red squirrels back to the UK.
Once grown up the squirrels will be sent to a conservation site such as the island of Anglesey in Wales to live wild and free, helping form a buffer population to safeguard the species against national extinction.
Red squirrels went extinct in Kent in the 1960's and many of us can remember them from our childhood and many areas like Kent once teemed with these beautiful acrobats of the trees.
Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust's Chief Executive said:
"Red squirrels are one of the most beautiful animals in the UK but sadly they face extinction unless urgent action is taken. But it's not yet too late. If we can help restore areas of woodland to a native state and make a concerted effort, we might just be able to tip the balance back in the red squirrel's favour."
"Wildwood Trust, as a charity, is committed to restoring our native and once native species and will continue to champion the restoration of natural woodlands."
Meet Freddy, our new badger!
Say hello to Freddy, our new badger. Freddy, a young male aged around 4 months was brought to Wildwood by the East Kent Badger Group after being found abandoned near Tenterden. Freddy was found as a young cub, suffering from anaemia and infested with ticks and fleas. Wildwood quickly had him treated and he made a full recovery but being so young he couldn’t be released back to the wild as he would not be able to look after himself.
Freddy is now being slowly introduced to the badger enclosure and has been taking regular walks around the park with his keeper, Gary. Gary said “Badgers are territorial so we are introducing him to the enclosure little by little so that Rodni, our female badger, can get used to him and doesn’t feel threatened by his arrival”. Freddy is now a little bigger than the picture above but is still a very lively young chap. Keep your eyes open for Freddy when you next visit the park!
Wildwood successfully breeds captive pine marten
Wildwood is celebrating a unique
achievement after successfully breeding a pine marten in captivity. The new arrival, thought to be the only captive pine marten to have been bred in the UK this year, is the second time Wildwood has bred pine martens and is a huge boost to Wildwood’s captive breeding programme.
This year's successful birth is a result of extensive research and trials by the Wildwood team into pine marten mating habits and how best to manage mating in captivity. As pine martens are a notoriously difficult species to keep on public display, never mind to breed, the park is justifiably proud of this achievement.
Pine martens are a very difficult animal to breed in captivity due to their territorial nature. In the wild pine martens are solitary and occupy large territories which they defend aggressively against other pine martens of either sex. The mating season is the only time that males and females will come together but being so territorial they will often attack a potential mate in order to defend their territory. Therefore the challenge for Wildwood was to bring our male and female together in a safe environment where mating could take place without the risk of a violent encounter.
In order to do this the Wildwood keeper team developed a special tunnel system in and around the animals’ enclosures, nicknamed “the tunnels of love”. The tunnels are used to allow the male marten to overlap into the female’s territory before mating to allow her to get used to the idea of him encroaching on her territory.
Wildwood’s head keeper, Paul Wirdnam said “As pine martens can be aggressive towards one another we have to ensure that the pair can come together to mate without risk of injury. Careful monitoring of the animals and timing is crucial to ensure the pair is likely to mate safely. We have allowed the animals to get close to each other through the fence but without contact so that they can see and smell each other and have allowed the male through the tunnels so that he can patrol through her enclosure. Only once we are satisfied that they are behaving as a compatible pair will we slowly allow the male to enter the female’s enclosure, with close monitoring from our staff. We also provide a safe haven for the female in case the male becomes aggressive.”
Thanks to the hard work of the team the pine martens bred safely and the new baby is now being spotted peeking out of its nest box and running around the enclosure.
"Pine martens lived throughout the UK until they were trapped, poisoned and shot by gamekeepers in the 19th and 20th century” " commented Peter Smith, Chief Executive of Wildwood “We a committed to restoring the pine marten to its former homes across the UK and hope that this new baby will one day be part of a larger scheme to reintroduce pine martens to the South east of England”
Baby beavers born at Wildwood
Wildwood is celebrating the birth of three adorable beaver kits. The new arrivals, born on 5th May, are set to help with projects to restore this remarkable mammal back to our riverbanks. The beaver are a part of a bold and innovative conservation programme, designed to protect and restore our wetland habitats.
Wildwood Trust have helped pioneer the use of beaver as a wildlife conservation tool. The success of this project has inspired a number of other projects in Gloucestershire and in Scotland.
Last month Wildwood Trust’s members and staff celebrated a momentous victory in their efforts to re-establish beaver to the UK when The Scottish Government scrapped plans to kill over 100 beavers living wild & free near Perth in Scotland.
Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust Chief Executive said
“It is our fondest wish that these adorable beavers can be legally reintroduced to British wetlands to breathe life back into our riverbanks and streams. Beavers are a hugely important animal in helping restore the British countryside as they are a 'keystone' species, and their marvellous management of riverbanks helps create a home for a huge range of other wildlife.”
“Since we hunted beavers to extinction in the UK about 400 years ago our rivers and streams have been much the poorer. Riverbank animals like otters, water voles, dragonflies and kingfishers have all suffered in their absence.”
“Beavers will help humans too as they create wetlands that act as giant sponges that help to retain and purify water, prevent pollution, reduce flooding and help bring down the cost of our water bills. A study in Germany estimated that every beaver was worth about £2,500 in reduced water bills and benefits to the people who lived nearby them.”
The kits are now in the beaver lodge at the park; with their parents who were were originally given to Wildwood Trust as a gift from the German Government. Their journey to Wildwood was documented in a BBC Television Countryfile special, which you can watch in the enclosure.
Rare Albino squirrel discovered at Wildwood
Wildwood is already home to some of our most spectacular native wildlife, but we are now home to a particularly rare specimen, a beautiful wild albino squirrel.
The pure white squirrel is in actual fact a common grey but his unusual colour makes him quite rare and easy to spot in the woodlands. There have already been several sightings around the parks’ wild boar and wild horse enclosures.
Albino squirrels are a rare oddity of nature, with the condition being thought by wildlife experts to affect just one in 100,000 animals.
This is compounded by their lack of camouflage which makes them stand out so they are easy prey. Sadly, many albino squirrels are taken by predators at an early age, giving them less chance to breed.
Albinism is caused by a rare genetic mutation which limits the amount of a pigment called melanin that the body produces. Animals with albinism are born with little or no pigmentation in their fur, skin or eyes, resulting in very pale or pure white fur and often distinctive pink eyes. Interestingly, Wildwood is already home to pure black squirrels, which are caused by melanism - the opposite of albinism.
2 new little owls at Wildwood
Wildwood has welcomed it’s newest animals, a pair of young little owls.
Little owls are Britain’s smallest owl and at just over 20cm in length, are only half the size of a tawny owl, our most familiar species.
The owls, a brother and sister, were found in a workshop and were the only surviving pair of their brood after their mother had sadly died. They were rescued by the owner of the workshop and brought to Wildwood where the keeper team have been taking care of them to build up their strength. The owls are in excellent health are now on public display, but won’t be able to go back to the wild as after being hand-reared they won’t be able to fend for themselves.
The pair, now around 14 weeks old, have been named Tip-Ex and Bostik, after the Wildwood keepers had to mark one of the owl’s claws with a spot of Tip-Ex in order to tell them apart. They are both doing very well and are settling into their enclosure, where visitors can see them as they practice flying from perch to perch.
Head Keeper Paul Wirdnam said “We are really pleased with how the owls are settling in, it’s hard to believe that they are almost fully grown as they are such small birds, but that’s what makes them special.”
Say hello to Rodni, our new baby badger
Wildwood is proud to introduce our newest addition to the park, Rodni the baby badger.
Rodni, who got her name after being found abandoned in Rodmersham, nr Sittingbourne, was brought to Wildwood by the East Kent Badger Group in April.
Before being officially re-homed at Wildwood, Rodni underwent a series of medical checks to confirm that she was healthy enough to join Wildwood’s existing clan. During this time Rodni lived with Wildwood keeper Karen Price who enjoyed looking after her at her home.
“Rodni is quite boisterous as you would expect from a young badger, unfortunately after being abandoned she doesn’t have the skills to go back to the wild so we have been getting her used to being around people.”
Now that Rodni is at Wildwood she is currently living part-time in the badger enclosure until she is used to the environment and is able to hold her own with the other adult badgers.
Karen said “As Rodni is a lot smaller than our other badgers we need to be sure that she will be able to look after herself so we are introducing her slowly to the enclosure and the other badgers. Once she is a little larger and at home with the clan then she will live with them full time.”
Wildwood receives funding for new wetland wildlife project
Wildwood is celebrating a generous donation of £21,000 towards a new wetland wildlife discovery centre at the park.
The funds have been donated by the W.G. Harvey Discretionary Trust, a charitable trust dedicated to the prevention of cruelty to animals and the preservation of wild animal and bird life.
The donation will help the Wildwood
Trust create a new area at the park which
will be centred around a new otter enclosure, with a water shrew
vole viewing area and simple aquariums for British aquatic creatures.
will be used to educate our 100,000 plus visitors a year about the
live in British wetland habitats, to help protect them in the wild and
encourage their re-population of our rivers.
It has been much published in recent months that whilst otter numbers have bounced back across many areas of the UK, they are still to make a recovery in Kent. A recent survey by The Environment Agency has revealed that otters are now found everywhere except Kent.
As a conservation charity, Wildwood is dedicated to the study of threatened British Wildlife and promoting awareness and education through allowing people to see our native animals in as natural habitat as possible.
Visitors will be able to view into the otter holt and the nest areas of the water shrew and water vole, and see the animals swimming in a near natural enclosure.
The otter enclosure will be the central feature, and will have a hospital area to keep otters separate should they need vet treatment, or when new otters arrive at Wildwood. The main enclosure will have a filtered pond and a large otter den, all constructed in natural woodland. The otter den will have special chambers with one-way glass, to assist behavioural studies without disturbing the otters, aiding research and giving our visitors the chance to see and learn about these beautiful and elusive creatures.
Peter Smith, Chief Executive of Wildwood said “We are extremely pleased to receive these vital funds that will allow us to highlight the plight of the otter and help us in our campaign to make our rivers a safe place that will once again harbour our wetland wildlife.”
Wildwood gets wild horses ready for move to Scotland
The team at Wildwood have been busy moving some of the charity’s wild horses from their homes in Dover to the Wildwood Wildlife Park near Canterbury in readiness for them moving to a new home in Scotland. The horses are being transferred to the RSPB nature reserve at the Loch of Strathberg where they will live wild to improve the wetland habitat through natural grazing.
In total 8 Konik foals have been transported from sites at Hospital Down and Western Heights near Dover. Visitors can see the foals at Wildwood for the next few weeks before they are moved to their new home in Scotland.
A team from Wildwood went to Dover to move the horses and to check the health of the rest of the wild herd. Head Keeper Paul Wirdnam said “Konik horses are much tougher than domestic horses and are perfectly suited to living wild. They require very little human intervention but this is the ideal opportunity for us to give the herd a general check-up and ensure that they are all happy and healthy.”
As a conservation charity, The Wildwood Trust is committed to improving conditions for wildlife throughout the UK. The Wildwood Trust's vision is to bring back our true 'wildwood' by restoring Britain's land to its natural state through conservation grazing by large wild herbivores that restore natural ecological processes to help Britain team with wildlife once more.
Konik horses are the closest living relative of the extinct Tarpan, the wild forest horse that roamed Britain in prehistoric times. They are hardy animals that live well on wetlands eating weeds, reeds and grass. They help to boost biodiversity through light grazing and natural fertilisation which keeps the land open and encourages a wider variety of plants, birds and invertebrates to settle in the area.
Wildwood’s Chief Executive Peter Smith said “We are delighted to be working with the RSPB to send these beautiful animals to the Loch of Strathberg . They are the ideal conservation management tool and will boost the area’s biodiversity”
The Konik foals are currently at Wildwood and can be seen by visitors until they depart for Scotland. Wild horses are just one of the huge range of British animals that can be seen at the Wildwood Wildlife Park near Canterbury. For more information visit our website at www.wildwoodtrust.org or telephone 0871 7820081.
bison is the largest
terrestrial mammal ever to live in
and were native throughout
keeper, Paul Wirdnam, who has several years experience of
looking after bison said “it’s fantastic to
have these magnificent creatures at Wildwood. Many people don’t realise that
animals of this size used to live in the
Bison are the largest animals ever to be kept at Wildwood and at up to 2m tall and weighing up to 1000kg; their arrival has posed some challenges for the keeper and ranger teams.
Keeper Paul said “Despite their large size, bison are very agile and can be quite wilful animals, so we have had to specially design their enclosure to give them plenty of space and a natural habitat whilst allowing safe access for staff and a good viewing area for visitors”.
The specially designed paddock and log-cabin style enclosure has been built by the Wildwood ranger team and volunteers to allow visitors to see these amazing creatures in a natural setting.
Bison are just one of the huge range of British animals that can be seen at Wildwood; the ideal day out for all the family where you can come 'nose to nose' with British Wildlife[ Back to Top ]