Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Sleepy dormice and secretive hedgehogs on display at Wildwood.

Wildwood is celebrating the long awaited opening of its new Nocturnal House; a specially designed centre that will allow visitors to see animals that would usually be sound asleep during opening hours.

The building, Funded by Biffa Award, is part of a larger project to expand Wildwood's work to conserve the hazel dormouse and offers visitors a rare opportunity to observe hazel dormice and other nocturnal small mammals for the first time, and to increase awareness of the conservation threats faced by these animals and how we can address them.

Visitors will be able to see rare and endangered small mammals that are otherwise very difficult to see during daylight hours such as hazel dormice, hedgehogs, wood mice and edible dormice.

The Nocturnal House is Wildwood's most ambitious project yet and the complex design of the building combined with the needs of the animals meant that the project had its fair share of setbacks. The building itself was completed at the end of 2012 but thanks to our unusually cold spring, it had to wait for its inhabitants to wake up from an extended hibernation period. Then the animals needed a period of adjustment in order to get used to being awake during the daytime as building features a unique lighting system that simulates daylight overnight and then fades to darkness during the days, but finally the building and animals are ready for visitors to the park.

Wildwood's CEO Peter Smith said; "We are thrilled with the new Nocturnal House, and the team have persevered to get this complicated project up and running.  It's great for Wildwood, as although most people have heard of dormice, few people will ever see one. Now we can educate people about these beautiful creatures and why it is so vital that we save them from extinction"

Sally Barnes, of Wildwood's Keeper team, who has been looking after the Nocturnal House said "The building is great, with spacious natural enclosures and the lighting system is working extremely well, we have already had many delighted customers who have seen their first ever dormouse, which is really exciting."

The Biffa Award grant also included funded the building of new dormouse breeding enclosures to expand Wildwood's capacity for breeding hazel dormice for reintroduction programmes. Over the course of the project 32 hazel dormice have been bred at the park, some of which will remain at Wildwood to boost the Trust's captive breeding population at Wildwood, with the others being reintroduced to areas of the UK where they have become extinct in releases facilitated by the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species.

The nocturnal house will also be used during Wildwood's conservation training courses, such as dormouse ecology and conservation, to give people the opportunity to observe these creatures as they would be in the wild, and improve their skills in species identification.

Visitor can see the new Nocturnal House on their next visit to the park, Wildwood is open 7 days a week from 10am, find us on the A291 between Canterbury and Herne Bay.


The Nocturnal house can be photographed or filmed by professional crews by prior arrangement.


The attached Photos shows a hazel dormouse, which is one of the species on display in the Nocuturnal House.


More about Wildwood

Opened in 1999 as a centre of excellence for the conservation of British wildlife and established as a registered charity in 2002, the Wildwood Trust is one of the South East's leading specialists in native species conservation and is a great family day out where you can see British Wildlife past and present.

At the heart of our work is our British wildlife park, which is home to over 200 native and once native animals including wolves, lynx, bison, deer, badgers, foxes, otters, owls and many more, set in 40 acres of stunning ancient woodland. At Wildwood, visitors of all ages can learn about the importance of our wildlife and woodlands and the efforts being made to protect them.

As a conservation charity dedicated to saving British wildlife, Wildwood strives to protect our native species through captive breeding and reintroduction projects and to educate and inspire future generations as to the importance of protecting our British wildlife and wild spaces. We aim to link as many of our animals as possible to conservation initiatives. Our range of pioneering captive breeding programmes include the water vole, pine marten, hazel dormouse, red squirrel, Konik horse, European beaver, harvest mouse, adder and water shrew.


For more information Contact Fiona Paterson:

Tel:          01227 712 111


Fiona Paterson
Wildwood Trust

Herne Common

Herne Bay



Tel: 01227 712 111
Registered charity no 1093702



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