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New reserves for Yorkshire Wildlife Park

BBC Countryfile presenter Helen Skelton visited Yorkshire Wildlife Park this week to open two new animal reserves.

The development completes summer expansion plans at the Park, where Channel 5’s Big Week at the Zoo is filmed, which Helen also presents.

A new Himalayan Pass reserve is now home to Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s newest arrivals – red panda sisters Alice, Ariel and Aurora – while next door more new arrivals –  smooth coated otters, Lukha and Mya – have a habitat of their own.

Red panda at Yorkshire Wildlife Park (Jamie-Stewart)

The Red Panda is an endangered species that lives in the temperate forest of the Himalayas. They usually weigh around 7kg and grow to the size of a house cat – although their long and bushy tails add an additional 18 inches to their frame.  

Smooth-coated otters are a vulnerable species living in the Himalayan river valleys. They have super soft short velvety fur and tiny webbed feet, and while these otters can typically be found in areas where there is lots of water, they are also comfortable on land and are happy to travel long distances to find a suitable habitat.

Smooth-coated otters – Yorkshire Wildlife Park (Jamie-Stewart)

Helen also met spotted hyenas, Granada and Speedy, in the new Experience Ethiopia section of the park, along with a troop of 13 Gelada Monkeys in the Simien Mountains reserve.

Originally found in Ethiopia and sub-Saharan Africa, hyenas have an unmissable call that sounds like laughter and powerful jaws that enable them to eat everything on a carcass, including the bones. Each clan of hyena has a dominant female, who is larger and heavier than the male, with spotted hyena the largest of the 3 hyena species.

Helen Skelton feeding a spotted hyena at Yorkshire Wildlife Park (Jamie-Stewart)

Gelada monkeys are unusual baboon sized primates that can only be found living in the high mountain meadows of Ethiopia.  At Yorkshire Wildlife Park, the leader is a dominant male called Harry – who is easily spotted with his handsome mane of long hair. 

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