Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Wildwood e-news October '11

Wildwood e-news October '11

1) Autumn half-term fun at Wildwood!

2) Welcome to Baxter, our new red fox

3) Kent Mammal Group training courses
4) Wildwood winter opening hours

5) Christmas events at Wildwood

6) Christmas gift ideas

7) Animal of the month - Wildcat

8) Items needed - can you help?


1) Autumn half-term fun at Wildwood

Half term events at Wildwood


Join in the autumn fun at Wildwood this half term!

FREE talks and feeds every day
Join our experts around the park for free talks and feeds to see our animals close up and watch out for our roving demonstrations every day for close up encounters with animals and animal artefacts.

Tues 25th October – Shadow puppets & Story telling craft event
Join our Natural Heritage Officer, Steve Kirk for an afternoon of animal stories and shadow puppets and make your own to take home.
2-4pm, £2 per person, one adult free per family. Must book (call 01227 712 111)

Wed 26th / Thur 27th / Fri 28th October - Hallowe'en Crafts
It's time to get spooky with our annual pumpkin orange and spider black creepy craft event. Make your own suitably spooky decorations to take home themed around pumkpins, bats, rats, spiders and cats. One session per day. 2-3pm, £2 per person, one adult free per family. Must book (call 01227 712 111).


2) Meet Baxter, our new red fox

Baxter, our new red fox


Wildwood is pleased to welcome Baxter, our new red fox.

The new addition brings number of red foxes at Wildwood to 3 and Baxter is getting on well with his new acquaintances, Wildwood residents Ellie and Chris.

Baxter was brought to Wildwood by The Fox Project, a charity based in Kent and the South East that helps sick and injured foxes and abandoned cubs, providing for their care, treatment and rehabilitation back to the wild.

Baxter, a young male, was rescued by the Fox Project team after being found abandoned as a cub. They cared for him until he was strong enough to fend for himself but sadly he is not suitable to be returned to the wild so has been brought to Wildwood to live with our existing foxes.

Wildwood's head keeper Paul Wirdnam said "Wildwood has worked with the Fox Project for a number of years, their team do a fantastic job have rehabilitated thousands of foxes just like Baxter. We are very proud to work with them"

You can see Baxter in the fox enclosure – keep an eye out for him on your next visit to the park.


3) Kent Mammal Group courses - last spaces remaining

 Mammal courses at Wildwood

Small mammal trapping course – Sat 29th October 9.30am - 4.15pm

Learn how to survey Kent's smallest mammals using live traps, includes handling and identification.

  • Introduction on small mammal surveys by Hazel Ryan.
  • Out into the woods to check the traps (set the previous evening).
  • Handle, sex and weigh the animals before re-setting the traps.
  • Illustrated talk on Kent's small mammals and their field signs.
  • Behind the scenes tour of our small mammal captive breeding programme (please note these animals are not on public display)
  • Re-check the traps.
  • Learn how to carry out your own small mammal surveys.

Kent Mammal ID Course – Sat 19th November 9.45am - 4pm

This popular courses teach you how to survey Kent's larger mammals from their tracks, signs and sightings . The courses are run in conjunction with Kent Mammal Group who are working towards an Atlas of Kent Mammals.

  • Includes a tour of native mammals kept at Wildwood
  • Learn how to identify animals by sight, along with nests, footprints, feeding remains and droppings.
  • Includes hands-on experience looking at skulls, antlers and skins.

Course tutor is Hazel Ryan, Wildwood's Senior Conservation Officer.
Courses cost £30 per person (£50 when you book both courses together).

To book call Hazel on 01227 712111 or e-mail hazel@wildwoodtrust.org


4) Winter opening hours

Please note that from Sunday 30th October, Wildwood's opening hours will be:

10am - 4pm (last admission 3pm)


5) Christmas at Wildwood

Real Christmas trees at Wildwood

Visit Santa at Wildwood!

Sat 3rd & Sun 4th Dec - Sat 10th & Sun 11th Dec - Sat 17th & Sun 18th Dec

Visit Santa in his grotto this December at Wildwood. All good little boys and girls welcome from 1pm-3pm. Cost £6 per child, includes a present from Santa (optional photographs also available for £2 each). Just drop in any time or book on 01227 712 111. Please note that all access to this event is only allowed if membership of or entry to Wildwood has been paid.

Christmas trees at Wildwood
Wildwood will have christmas trees again this year - orders are being taken now. Stock will be available to buy directly from the shop from 3rd Dec. To place an order call the shop on 01227 712 111.


6) Christmas gift ideas 

Animal adoptions - the perfect gift
An animal adoption is a great gift for any animal lover as well as helping to support Wildwood's conservation work. Choose from animal adoption bags for kids or postal adoption packs for adults. Prices start from just £25 with over 20 animals to choose from.

Visit www.wildwoodtrust.org or call Pat or Sharon on 01227 712111 to give someone their favourite animal this Christmas.


Photo Days  
A unique experience for novice and more experienced photographers alike. Enjoy exclusive access around the park to take close-up photos of our animals, with our resident photographer Dave Butcher on hand to give help and advice on how to get those special shots. A range of different animals will be photographed across the day, with animal feeds for the more elusive animals to help you get close up shots. Days run from 10:30am - 12:30pm and 1:30pm - 4pm with an hour for lunch (make use of our restaurant or bring a packed lunch). Max 10 persons per day. Visit our website at www.wildwoodtrust.org for details of forthcoming dates.

Gift vouchers are also available to allow the recipient to choose a date to suit them.

Cost: £75 per person, which includes entry to the park. To book call 01227 712 111


7) Animal of the month - Wildcat

They may look like your friendly tabby next door, but don't be fooled, this is a cat that was never going to sit beside anyone's hearth. Wildcats are exactly that-wild, and are renowned for being untameable, even as kittens.

Wildcats were present in Britain before humans arrived here and before domestic cats had even evolved. Wildcats survived human persecution for a thousand years longer than the brown bear and over two hundred years longer than the wolf, making them one of the largest predators remaining in the UK. Sadly, wildcats are only found nowadays in remote areas of the Scottish highlands and recent estimates put their number at a dangerously low 400 surviving in the wild.

Wildcats are traditionally forest animals, although Britain's remaining wildcats have been forced to adapt to other habitats and will often include moorland, heath and rocky areas in their territory. Scottish wildcats mainly prey upon rabbits and hares, whereas European ones tend to eat mostly small mammals, such as mice and voles. Wildcats will occasionally eat fish, frogs, lizards and birds. They are true carnivores and eat almost every part of their prey, including fur and bones. Wildcats resemble a domestic tabby in some ways but they are clearly larger and more muscular, the tail is thicker, with a blunt black tip, and their coat is very thick, with brown and black stripes. The face and jaw are usually wider and more heavy-set than in a domestic cat.

Wildcats are mainly nocturnal. They spend the day resting in dens or among undergrowth and can prowl up to 10km at night in their search for prey. Like many animals, wildcats communicate with one another through scent, either by leaving urine and faeces in prominent places or rubbing their cheeks or clawing trees to release scent from glands.

Wildcats are solitary animals, spending most of their lives alone. They mate in midwinter and the male does not help to rear the kittens. Kittens are born in spring, usually in May, and there may be 1-8 kittens in a litter although 3 or 4 is average. Females who are ready to mate, in January or February, can be heard caterwauling to attract a male. This is one of the few times that wildcats make any noise. Kittens are fed on milk at first but within a few weeks their mother will begin bringing back live prey for the kittens to practice on. Kittens will spend time out hunting with their mother before they become independent at about five months old. Wildcats generally mate for the first time in their second year.

Although they are often referred to nowadays as Scottish wildcats, wildcats were once found across the whole of Britain. They are now only found in Scotland, north of a line between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Persecution from humans and habitat loss has reduced the population, so that now wildcats are Britain's most endangered mammal, with only 400 pure specimens left in the wild. The last Kentish wildcats are thought to have died out around 1750. In the past, wildcats were persecuted by gamekeepers because of the threat they posed to game birds and their chicks. Farmers also saw wildcats as a threat to newborn lambs. There was even considerable misunderstanding about the threat wildcats posed towards humans - until the 1950s, they were believed to kill humans, hanging by hooks in their tails from branches and then leaping for the throat! The biggest current threat to wildcats is hybridisation with feral domestic cats, of which there are thought to be approximately 100,000 in Scotland. The Scottish wildcat population has been calculated at up to 4000, but all except 400 are suspected to have hybridised with domestic cats and so are not true wildcats. Although wildcats are a protected species, there is little the law can do to prevent feral and domestic cats from mating with wildcats. Releasing captive-bred wildcats is not an effective way to boost the population of pure wildcats, as they are not used to hunting for themselves and tend not to survive very well. However, captive animals are vital at the moment to maintain numbers of this highly threatened species.


Did you know? Wildcats....

  • Are completely untameable - kittens will hiss, spit and claw at humans even before their eyes have opened.
  • Have full surround-sound hearing; each ear can swivel independently 180 degrees.
  • In Scotland are larger, more heavily camouflaged and hunt across a wider range of habitats than their European cousins.
  • May be at the root of Scottish stories of banshees; females will scream to attract a mate.
  • The Catti people, an ancient tribe which worshipped the wildcat, gave their name to Caithness


8) Items needed - can you help?

We love to recycle and we can make use of many items that would otherwise go to landfill. At the moment we need the following items:

  • Laptops (less than 5 years old) - for use by our conservation and keeper teams when visiting other sites and around Wildwood.
  • Flat-Panel TVs - To enhance our educational facilities.
  • Large plastic storage boxes with lids - for use in our new conservation building to store equipment safely out of the way of small creatures such as dormice and water voles should they get loose.

If you can help at all please contact the office on 01227 712 111, many thanks.



Fiona Paterson
Wildwood Trust
Tel 01227 712 111







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