After more than eight months of lockdown over the last year, Wildwood Trust, the British wildlife conservation charity and Park near Canterbury, celebrated the joys of spring as it reopened its gates, following the lifting of restrictions for zoos and wildlife parks on 12 April.
More than 50 species of British animals, past and present, were ready to greet visitors just as nature sprung into action. Birds were singing all around the park, flowers and trees were blossoming in the park’s ancient woodland and many residents were expecting adorable new young.
While closed under the lockdown restriction, the Trust has undergone some ‘home renovations’, planting more than a thousand trees and taking the opportunity to upgrade multiple areas of the park ready for a fun-filled spring and summer this year when families are able to enjoy days out once more.
“Words can’t express how thrilled we are to welcome visitors back to Wildwood. We cannot wait to hear the park filled with children’s laughter and for visitors to connect with wildlife and nature once again. We’ve been hard at work during lockdown preparing for a wonderful 2021 when we could reopen, now that time it’s here and we couldn’t be happier!” said Paul Whitfield, Director General of Wildwood Trust.
Some captivating new additions have joined Wildwood during the Coronavirus pandemic, with the top of the list no doubt being bear cub siblings Mish and Lucy. The cubs were rescued in Albania and brought to Wildwood in August for a temporary stay, before heading to their forever home at Wildwood Escot in Devon later this spring.
“Lots of our animals enjoy their interactions with our visitors, and Mish and Lucy are perhaps two of the most popular, along with our other bears, Fluff & Scruff. While the latter have snoozed their way through the winter lockdowns in their annual torpor (hibernation), Mish & Lucy are too young this year so we’ve had to get creative to keep them entertained”, said Jon Forde, bear keeper at Wildwood Trust.
He continues, “They’re so full of fun, they keep surprising us with their quirky antics every day. While we haven’t had visitors to the park, keepers have been coming up with inventive ways to ensure they get all the enrichment they need including Christmas treats and Valentine’s pinatas. These were designed to encourage their natural foraging behaviour which they would use in the wild to sniff and search out food and they, and we, had so much fun watching them play, explore and use their natural skills.”
The wildlife park and charity has used the periods of closure to make some home improvements, particularly in its playground area, where new features will be revealed over the course of the season.
Wildwood Trust has put in place the same Covid security measurements which earned them the Visit England ‘Good to Go’ seal of approval following the first lockdown, highlighting covid-safe places to visit. The Park has been praised by visitors for its easy-to-follow and sensible covid security features.
You can read more about these measures and book your visit at Wildwood Trust.