Welcome to the April edition of our monthly newsletter. In this issue we're reporting on a couple of births at the park, the building of an exciting new addition to the play park and congratulating one of our trustees on receiving a prestigious award. If you wish to know more about any of our stories or The Wildwood Trust in general, then please feel free to email us at email@example.com
Thanks for reading and your continued support. We'll see you again in May!
Bears are back
Our bears are now fully out of hibernation and are once again meandering through their large enclosure on a daily basis. ITV recently featured their story - click the button below and relive the amazing story of how The Wildwood Trust's members and keepers rescued and rehabilitated these amazing animals.
Congratulations to Ryan, Craig and Ayden who all won vouchers after being randomly picked from our 'Find the bunny' prize draw.
The online only 'Golden bunny' competition was won by Sacha, who was hand-delivered a mini mountain of Easter chocolate, much to her delight.
Books for bears
The ongoing success of our books for bears appeal means we are always looking for new literature for our visitors to purchase with a small donation.
If you have any spare books laying around, then please bring them in to help fill up one of our bare shelves. All proceeds from donations go directly to the bears.
Arctic fox moult
The more eagle-eyed of you may have noticed that our Arctic foxes have been slowly losing their glossy winter coats over the previous weeks. The speed of their hair-loss has dramatically risen over the past few days, and they'll soon be ready for the summer.
Don't be disturbed if you see them looking a little more grey and less fluffy next time you visit!
Desmond the red deer is well on the way to achieving his usual majestic look, as the first bumps of his new antlers appear. They should prove to be bigger and better than last year's impressive growth!
Fact of the day: Antler growth is one of the fastest known types of tissue growth in mammals, and a deer's antlers can grow at a rate of ¼ inch per day.
Pine marten appeal
In the 1800s pine martens were hunted for fur and this, combined with predator control by gamekeepers and habitat fragmentation, led them to the verge of extinction in many areas of the UK. At The Wildwood Trust, we are passionate about the possibilities of reintroducing pine martens back into our woodlands and really need your help this month.
Click on the button to find out about our captive breeding and research programs and how you can contribute to bringing this wonderful creature back into our countryside.
Our new addition to the play park is almost complete! The rope bridges are up, the climbing frames are going up and your little 'uns will soon be able to scamper about like pine martens in and around the towers.
Pine martens are renowned for their playful antics, which is why we have based our exciting new addition on this acrobatic creature. We can't wait to see our towers being enjoyed, but we do have the envious task of naming them.
Can you help? If you have a catchy name for our towers, which must include reference to pine martens, then please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org including 'Pine tower' in the subject box.
Bird flu restrictions lifted
From 13th April, restrictions on bird movement put in place by the government's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for high-risk areas have been removed.
Wildwood's location close to wild bird migration routes meant that we were in one of the high-risk zones and had to keep our birds under cover to help avoid contamination from outside of the park. This is no longer the case and, due to our ongoing biosecurity measures, we're happy to announce that none of our birds have been affected.
Our reindeer Holly gave birth at first light on the 20th April. The new calf and mother are both doing very well. The calf, as you can see, is adorable and enjoying life in its new home.
Fiction of the day: A reindeer calf is 95% legs.
We're very proud to announce that Professor Richard Griffiths has just been awarded the ZSL's prestigious Marsh Award for Conservation Biology.
In addition to working at the University of Kent for more than 20 years, serving as the director of Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology between 2013 and 2015, serving on the Executive Committee of the World Congress of Herpetology and being President of the The British Herpetological Society, Professor Griffiths is also highly valued as a trustee for The Wildwood Trust.
His commitment to conservation and vast ecological knowledge has inspired and improved The Wildwood Trust's own conservation efforts dramatically over the years, and we couldn't be happier that he has been rewarded for his contribution to our natural world. Congratulations!
The end of March saw us welcome another joey to our wallaby family. The middle of this month saw the first appearance as a head poked out of mother's pouch.
Fiction of the day: A wallaby joey is 95% ears.
Picture of the month
Wildwood Trust Herne Common Herne Bay Kent CT6 7LQ
Spring is in the air, new life is blossoming at Wildwood and our Easter programme is starting this Saturday. We have plenty of Easter shenanigans to entertain adults and children over the egg-citing two week period, culminating in the big Easter weekend. All of our bookable events take place between 10:30 and 11:30 in the mornings and cost £4 per session (apart from our Junior Keeper day).
Saturday 1st April Nature Detectives Conservation scientists often have to study animals just from the traces they leave behind, can you rise to the challenge? Take a closer look at a range of animal artefacts such as skulls, antlers, nests and fur to see if you can work out which animal each object is linked to.
Tuesday 4th April Egg-cellent enrichment Help make some Easter egg themed treats for our critters then see them delivered to the animals on a walk around the park.
Wednesday 5th April Conservation Club: Lynx A closer look at lynx and why conservationists are keen to bring them back to Britain. Learn about them by visiting our lynx and hearing fun facts, challenge yourself to jump as high as a lynx and make lynx crafts to take home.
Thursday 6th April CSI Wildwood: Who killed Mr. Bunny? Investigate a woodland murder! Look at the clues including animal tracks, poo samples and blood swabs, to see if you can solve the mystery of who killed Mr Bunny.
Friday 7th April Teddy bear's picnic Bring your favourite bear friend along to hear bear stories, make yourself a pair of bear ears to take home and visit our bears to hear more about them.
Saturday 8th April Food, digestion and poo Like most animals we love our food but what happens to our food once it enters our mouths? With hands-on activities you’ll track the journey our food takes as it is digested. Take a closer look at a range of animal poo and discover what it can tell us about the animal’s diet. Make a model of a horse’s digestive system to take home.
Tuesday 11th April Cute chick crafts Join us to celebrate spring and get ready for Easter by making a variety of chick-themed crafts to take home.
Wednesday 12th April Bunny bonanza Join us to celebrate spring and get ready for Easter by helping to deliver some treats to our bunnies and make a variety of bunny-themed crafts to take home.
Thursday 13th April Conservation Club: Red squirrels A closer look at red squirrels. Find out where red squirrels live and why they need help from conservationists. Learn awesome squirrel facts and make squirrel crafts to take home.
Friday 14th April Easter crafts Join in our Easter celebrations by making lots of Easter-themed crafts to take home with you.
Saturday 15th April Junior Zookeeper £50 per child, no adults. 10:00-12:00 Find out what it takes to be a zookeeper. Prepare and deliver food to some of our animals and get stuck in to some mucking out. Discover how we make our animals lives more interesting and natural. Get a commemorative t-shirt, workbook and certificate to take home.
Wildwood Trust Herne Common Herne Bay Kent CT6 7LQ
One young boy's dream came true at 11am on Friday 24th March, when Theo Curtiss-Sperring got to release the Wildwood bears back into their huge outdoor enclosure after a long winter hibernation.
Hundreds of Wildwood members and visitors came to watch the ceremony as the bears, rescued from appalling cruelty in Bulgaria, get to once again run and frolic in their amazing woodland habitat at the Wildwood Discovery Park in Kent. The Wildwood rope bear bridge was then opened and visitors got to walk over the enclosure for a birds eye view of the bears at play.
Our happy bears are out in their large enclosure until the Autumn and our rope will be open as long as our bears are active.
High resolution images also available on request. Permission will need to be granted for use of images containing Theo Curtiss-Sperring.
The story of our bears
The early years...
The bears had lived their entire lives in small, barren concrete pits in an abandoned bear breeding centre called Kormissosh, in Bulgaria. Kormissosh was used to breed bears to be shot by hunters until 1993 when bear hunting was outlawed. As a result, Kormissosh was abandoned, leaving the bears to a life of misery and neglect. Only the kindness of local villagers saw the bears being fed, their main diet being hardened blocks of porridge.
As Kormissosh was a breeding centre, the males and females were not separated when the centre was abandoned and the bears continued to breed. Our bears (males, both now aged around 17yrs) were born at Kormissosh and had never been outside of their concrete pens before being rescued by Wildwood.
To rescue the bears, Wildwood worked in partnership with Bears In Mind, a Netherlands based charity which works to rescue bears around the world. After a desperate push to raise the £50,000 needed for their transportation and quarantine enclosure, Wildwood managed to bring the bears to their site in Kent in November 2014. The rescue operation was in fact brought forward by 5 months as it was feared that the bears might not survive the winter.
A new life at Wildwood...
After arriving at Wildwood, the bears lived in their smaller quarantine enclosure whilst their larger woodland enclosure area was completed. As soon as it was ready, the bears were allowed out to explore their new home one at a time until they were both familiar with their surroundings.
Although brothers, the bears had never seen each other when at Kormissosh, and were gradually introduced through the enclosure wires over a period of time. It was felt that 'discussions' took place during this period, so when they did eventually meet 'face-to-face' in March 2016, there was no altercations and they still get on very well.
The rest of 2016 saw the bears wowing visitors to Wildwood with their gentle and inquisitive natures. They did begin to slow down in the Autumn months and went into semi-hibernation for, what we believe, is the first time ever.
Our aim is for the bears in our charge to become as natural as possible, and make sure that their physical and mental health are as perfect as we can achieve. To this end, we're slowly working towards them realising a four month hibernation at the end of 2017, which should lead to them approaching a full natural rhythm by the Summer of 2018.
With our large enclosure having the capacity to comfortably fit five bears, we may also look towards supporting more bears at Wildwood dependant on whether we deem it beneficial for our exisiting bears. Watch this space!
Wildwood Trust opened in 1999 as a centre of excellence for the conservation of British wildlife, and was established as a registered charity in 2002. Wildwood is Kent's best British wildlife park. Home to over 200 native animals, past and present and set in 40 acres of beautiful ancient woodland where visitors can see bears, wolves, bison, deer, owls, foxes, red squirrels, wild boar, lynx, wild horses, badgers and beavers plus many more. As one of the leading British animal conservation charities in the UK, Wildwood Trust is dedicated to saving Britain's most threatened wildlife. Wildwood Trust have taken part in many ground-breaking conservation programmes to date, which include, saving the water vole, using wild horses to help restore Kent's most precious nature reserves, bringing the extinct European beaver back to Britain and returning the hazel dormouse & red squirrel to areas where they have been made extinct.
Wildwood Trust Herne Common Herne Bay Kent CT6 7LQ