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Wildlife parks and zoos to reopen

With the welcome news that wildlife parks and zoos can reopen this month, we take a look at what’s happening where and report on our favourite places to visit to discover animals.

Although restrictions have been lifted, visitor numbers will be limited each day to allow for social distancing measures, with one-way systems in place to offer more room. Plus, don’t forget to book your tickets in advance as there’s no admission at the door (please see individual websites for details).

African Elephants enjoying the Spring sunshine at West Midland Safari Park

Visitors to West Midland Safari Park can look forward to the drive-through safari and attractions including Land of The Living Dinosaurs and Ice Age exhibit when they return, although the reptile house and Aquarium will remain closed for the time being, with the Park’s new virtual reality Jungle Boat Ride set to open in May.

Safari drive-through guests will also be able to see the African elephants at their newly completed luxury habitat, featuring a vast drinking pool and waterfall, which has been purpose-built into the Park’s long-awaited Safari Lodges development – now open for overnight stays.

For more information on visiting and to book tickets go to www.wmsp.co.uk

Lowland Tapir can be found at Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s new Atlantic Forest habitat

Maned wolves, a pack of bush dogs, a pair of lowland tapir, and an adorable giant otter pup make their debut as Yorkshire Wildlife Park reopens to the public, with Atlantic Forest – a 5,500 sqm habitat featuring species found in the South American region – the first reserve to open as part of the Park’s 20201 expansion plans.

Home to nearly 400 animals and 70 different species, Yorkshire Wildlife Park works closely with charities to help the conservation of endangered species, with the Park’s 10-acre Project Polar reserve currently home to four male bears: Nobby, Hamish, Luka & Sisu – the only polar bears in England.

For further information on visiting go to www.yorkshirewildlifepark.com

Majestic Amur tiger at Paradise Wildlife Park’s Land of the Tigers

Visitors to Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire will be able to see big cat sisters Aleena and Siberia swimming underwater in their new  Land of the Tigers home – the first Amur tiger habitat of its kind. The impressive new enclosure – which opened for just three weeks before lockdown –  features a huge pool full of fish, making Land of the Tigers the first big cat mixed-species enclosure in the UK.

Looking ahead, plans are also underway for two new habitats at the Park – Jaguar Jungle and Sun Bear Heights – with both expected to open by the summer.

Indoor experiences Temple of Angkor, Amazon & Beyond, and Rainforest will also be open this month, with a one-way system in place around the animal park and World of Dinosaurs.

For further information and to book tickets go to www.pwpark.com

Photo by Banham Zoo

Santos the Sloth is a new arrival at Marwell Zoo

Marwell Zoo in Hampshire has a few new residents for visitors to meet as they reopen the gates to their 140-acre site. Six-year-old Santos, the Linne’s two-toed sloth, arrived from Banham Zoo in February and can be found in the Energy for Life: Tropical House, while endangered female Amur tiger, Valentina, arrived in December to join the other tigers.

New residents also include a scimitar-horned oryx calf – one of the smallest hoofed animals in the world, and a rare Javan Chevrotain – a type of mouse deer, who were both born this year.

Marwell Zoo is home to hundreds of animals including Rothchild’s giraffes, tigers, penguins, snow leopards, and white rhinos. For more information and to book tickets go to www.marwell.org.uk

Asiatic Lion, Bhamu at ZSL London Zoo’s Land of the Lions (ZSL)

ZSL London Zoo looks forward to a number of exciting events this year, kicking off in May with Tiny Giants, a new exhibit celebrating the planet’s smallest and mightiest animals: from underwater corals and the aquatic wildlife they support, to industrious leafcutter ants, spiders and beetles.  This will be followed by the opening of Giants of the Galapagos – a new home for giant Galapagos tortoises Dolly, Polly and Priscilla – plus further events to be revealed later this year.

Visitors will also get the chance to see Critically Endangered Sumatran tigers in Tiger Territory, Komodo dragons in the Attenborough Komodo Dragon House, a pride of Endangered Asiatic lions in Land of the Lions, and South American tamanduas, two-toed sloths and emperor tamarin monkeys in Rainforest Life.

Reticulated Giraffe at ZSL London Zoo (ZSL)

Celebrating its 90th birthday this year, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has plenty to see at the vast 600-acre site in Hertfordshire, with a herd of endangered Asian elephants, two species of rhinoceroses, brown bears, Amur tigers, reticulated giraffes, African lions and squirrel monkeys among the 3,500 animals found at the UK’s largest zoo.

A brand-new dinosaur experience is also set to open in the summer, where visitors entering a prehistoric world will come face to face with life-size, moving dinosaurs.

For further information on visiting ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo go to www.zsl.org 

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