Friday, 1 June 2012

Wildwood e-news June 12

Wildwood e-news June '12

1) June Half Term fun!
2) Baby Beavers - watch us on the BBC tonight! 
3) New red fox, Sasha
4) Wildwood on Springwatch
5) Rare albino squirrel
6) Wildwood amphibian expert on The One Show
7) Supporter of the month - Ridge Golf Club ladies
8) Items needed - can you help?


1) June Half Term events!

June events at Wildwood

Summer is has finally arrived and this half-term we have lots of fun going on around the park!

Wednesday 6th June - Death, Decay & Dissection!
Ever wondered what happens to animals after they die?  What's inside them and how are they recycled by other animals? This fun (but gory) workshop uses a real dead wild animal (road kill) for dissection to discover its amazing anatomy.
2pm - 3.30pm. Min age 8 years. £2 per person, one adult free per family*. Must book.

Thursday 7th June - Animal Brains!
Discover the brainiest animals at Wildwood and make special food treats that will get them thinking! Then see some of them used around the park to test their brain power. 2pm - 3.30pm. £2 per person, one adult free per family*. Must book.

Friday 8th June - Amazing Animal Senses!
Discover how animals use all of their amazing senses, not just their eyesight, to find food and each other. 
2pm - 3.30pm. £2 per person, one adult free per family*. Must book.


To book any event please call 01227 712 111.

*Access to events is only allowed if membership or entry to Wildwood has been paid.
Please note that all events must be paid for at the time of booking and are non-refundable (unless cancelled by Wildwood).


2) Say hello to our baby beavers!

Baby beavers at Wildwood


****** Watch the baby beavers on BBC South East tonight (Friday) at 6.30pm, BBC1 ******

Wildwood is celebrating the birth of three adorable beaver kits. The new arrivals, born on 5th May, are set to help with projects to restore this remarkable mammal back to our riverbanks. The beaver are a part of a bold and innovative conservation programme, designed to protect and restore our wetland habitats.

Wildwood Trust have helped pioneer the use of beaver as a wildlife conservation tool. The success of this project has inspired a number of other projects in Gloucestershire and in Scotland.

Last month Wildwood Trust's members and staff celebrated a momentous victory in their efforts to re-establish beaver to the UK when The Scottish Government scrapped plans to kill over 100 beavers living wild & free near Perth in Scotland.

Peter Smith, Wildwood Trust Chief Executive said 

"It is our fondest wish that these adorable beavers can be legally reintroduced to British wetlands to breathe life back into our riverbanks and streams. Beavers are a hugely important animal in helping restore the British countryside as they are a 'keystone' species, and their marvellous management of riverbanks helps create a home for a huge range of other wildlife."

"Since we hunted beavers to extinction in the UK about 400 years ago our rivers and streams have been much the poorer. Riverbank animals like otters, water voles, dragonflies and kingfishers have all suffered in their absence."

"Beavers will help humans too as they create wetlands that act as giant sponges that help to retain and purify water, prevent pollution, reduce flooding and help bring down the cost of our water bills. A study in Germany estimated that every beaver was worth about £2,500 in reduced water bills and benefits to the people who lived nearby them."

The kits are now in the beaver lodge at the park; with their parents who were were originally given to Wildwood Trust as a gift from the German Government.  Their journey to Wildwood was documented in a BBC Television Countryfile special, which you can watch in the enclosure.


3) Welcome Sasha, our new red fox

Baby beavers at Wildwood

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

Sasha, who is thought to have been born in March, was found hungry and abandoned in her den by a member of the public. Sadly, as tiny orphan she stood little chance of surviving in the wild so had to be hand reared, but Wildwood was able to offer Sasha a home with our other foxes. Sasha's arrival brings number of red foxes at Wildwood to 4 and Sasha is now fully integrated into the group and can be seen in the fox enclosure.

Wildwood keeper Chris Jewell said "Sasha is a great little fox; it's good to have another young fox in the group, especially to keep Baxter company. Sasha is fitting in very well with the other foxes and is very popular with visitors."

4) Wildwood on Springwatch

Wildwood on Springwatch

Wildwood was delighted to welcome Chris Packham and the Springwatch team to the park to make a fascinating film about some very special research being carried out at Wildwood. 

Chris visited our Conservation Centre to meet Dr Robyn Grant, from the University of Sheffield's Active Touch Laboratory, who is studying how mammals use their whiskers to interpret the world around them. The film was made in our specially designed conservation centre which was opened earlier this year.

The research, which uses Wildwood's water voles, dormice and harvest mice among others, involves recording the movements the animals' whiskers using a high-speed video camera and specially designed light box. The camera films at 500 frames per second, enabling Dr Grant to play back the whiskers' movements in slow-motion.

So far her research has shown that mammals use their whiskers to sense the world around them by "whisking", whereby they twitch their whiskers upwards, outwards and straight ahead up to 25 times a second.

Dr Grant says whisking is "a parallel sense to our sense of touch. For instance, Hazel dormice use their whiskers, or vibrissae, in a similar way to how people use their eyes - scanning to recognise what is in front of them. In order to navigate over uneven surfaces on branches, they vibrate them to find where to put their feet, as well as to work out where there's a gap and where to change branches."

Click here to watch the Springwatch film


5) Rare albino squirrel discovered at Wildwood

Albino squirrel at Wildwood

Wildwood is already home to some of our most spectacular native wildlife, but we are now home to a particularly rare specimen, a beautiful wild albino squirrel.

The pure white squirrel is in actual fact a common grey but his unusual colour makes him quite rare and easy to spot in the woodlands. There have already been several sightings around the parks' wild boar and wild horse enclosures.

Albino squirrels are a rare oddity of nature, with the condition being thought by wildlife experts to affect just one in 100,000 animals. This is compounded by their lack of camouflage which makes them stand out so they are easy prey. Sadly, many albino squirrels are taken by predators at an early age, giving them less chance to breed.

Albinism is caused by a rare genetic mutation which limits the amount of a pigment called melanin that the body produces. Animals with albinism are born with little or no pigmentation in their fur, skin or eyes, resulting in very pale or pure white fur and often distinctive pink eyes. Interestingly, Wildwood is already home to pure black squirrels, which are caused by melanism - the opposite of albinism.


6) Wildwood newt expert appears on The One Show

Richard Griffiths on The One Show

Richard Griffiths, Professor of Biological Conservation at the University of Kent, and Wildwood Trustee has been featured on The One Show, in a special piece on great crested newts.

Richard said "In Kent, we are lucky that we have all three species of newts that occur in the UK - smooth, palmate and great crested newts. Although palmate newts tend to be more of a woodland species than the other two, in some places, all three species can occur in the same pond. Digging a garden pond is therefore one of the simplest and most effective conservation measures for newts. If they are in the area, then it is very likely that newts will colonise the pond on their own. It is best to avoid stocking the pond with fish as these may eat the newt eggs and larvae."

Great crested newts are European Protected Species (EPS) and are therefore protected against killing, capture, injury and disturbance, so if you are lucky enough to see them in your pond you should just leave them well alone. The places they use for shelter or protection are also protected against damage, destruction or obstruction, so if you need to disturb the pond while they are present you should contact Natural England for advice before starting any work, as breaking the law can lead to fines of up to £5000 per offence and, potentially, prison sentences of up to six months.

The team that appeared on the One Show organise Wildwood's popular 'Leapers and Creepers' day in April every year. Watch out for this event next year if you want to see our local amphibians and reptiles close-up and learn more about what you can do to make your garden 'frog and newt friendly'.

Click here to watch The One Show film


7) Supporter of the month - Ridge Golf Club ladies

Ridge Golf Club ladies

The Wildwood Trust is thrilled to have received a donation from the lady members of the Ridge Golf Club, near Maidstone, Kent.

The ladies, led by their captain Ann Watts, chose Wildwood as their charity and visited the wildlife park and conservation charity near Canterbury, Kent, to learn more about the conservation work done by the trust before organising a range of novel ways to raise money.

Ann Watts said "Fundraising took many forms, there was a charity bunker on the course during the summer and £1 was collected every time a player landed in that bunker. We held raffles and tombolas and devised Wildwood-themed activities such as "Name the Wolf" and "Where did the Red Squirrel bury his nuts?"

The ladies hard work paid off, with an amazing £1,100 raised for the trust.

"We are thrilled with this amazing donation; the ladies have really pulled out all the stops to raise funds for our conservation work. The money will greatly contribute towards our work to save British Wildlife." commented Beth Flowers, Wildwood's Fund Raising Manager.

Ann Watts said, "I had no hesitation in selecting the Wildwood Trust as my chosen charity. I have previous experience of working with the Trust and wanted others to see the fantastic work that they do for British wildlife. I also wanted to support a small, local charity."

The donation was presented by Ann and some of the other lady members of the club to Steve Kirk and Claire Wright of Wildwood and will be used to support the trust's conservation projects to save threatened British animals such as the water vole and red squirrel.

Click here for more info on Ridge Golf club

If you would like to raise money for Wildwood, contact the office on 01227 712 111.


8) Items needed, can you help?

As a conservation charity we love to recycle and can make use of lots of things that might otherwise go into landfill. We urgently need the following items for use around the park, if you can help please contact the office on 01227 712 111.

  • Old towels (any size) - For use in our vet rooms and for animal enrichment.
  • Large plastic storage boxes with lids - For use in our new conservation building.
  • Old sheepskin slippers or boots - for use by our educational workshops (sheepskin preferred, faux fur OK).
  • Flatscreen TFT computer monitors - for use in the Wildwood office.
  • Glass fishtanks / vivariums (min 2ft long, lids not required) - for use in our conservation centre.

If you can help with any of the above items please contact the office on 01227 712 111. Anything you can help with will be gratefully received.

Many thanks,

Fiona Paterson

Wildwood Trust

Herne Common,

Herne Bay,



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