Wildwood e-news October '13
Wildcat kittens go on public display - vote on Facebook to name our new kitten!
Wildwood is delighted to announce that our two female wildcat kittens have now gone on public display.
The first of the two kittens, named Isla (pictured), was born at Wildwood and is now 14 weeks old. After being hand-reared by the Wildwood team from a newborn, she is surprisingly friendly towards humans, despite the species being famously impossible to tame.
The second kitten is around 20 weeks old, and has come to Wildwood from the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey. Unlike Isla, she was reared by her mother and so displays more typical wildcat behaviour. Experts at Wildwood expect that once the two kittens are introduced, Isla will quickly forget her tame ways and become a truly wild wildcat, as nature intended.
The wildcat, Britain's rarest mammal, is critically endangered with less than 400 individuals appearing to remain in the wild the UK and barely a handful in the captive breeding population. Without urgent action scientists warn that they could become extinct in less than 10 years.
Wildcats have been pushed to the verge of extinction by persecution, habitat loss and inter-breeding (hybridisation) with domestic cats which is fast reducing the number of pure-bred animals in the wild.
The new kittens at Wildwood will become part of a UK wide effort to prevent wildcats becoming extinct by boosting the UK's increasingly important captive pure-bred population which could prove to be the species' only hope for survival.
Wildwood's wildcat keeper, Sally Barnes said:
"It been such a privilege to raise this precious wildcat kitten, to nurse such an amazing animal and have the honour to protect such a rare creature has been the high point of my career. However, wildcats can never be tamed so we are now taking a more hands-off approach to allow the kittens to develop into true wildcats."
Visitors can see the kittens in their new enclosure just past the entrance to the Bees.
New elk enclosure now open!
Wildwood is pleased to announce that our two new European elk (Alces alces) are now officially on public display. The spectacular pair; a male and female, join Wildwood's collection of once-native British species and are amongst the largest animals at the park.
The Eurasian elk together with its close relative the moose (Alces americanus), is the world's largest living deer species and can grow to a height of over 8ft and weigh up to 900kg.
Elk are easily recognised by their humped shoulders, broad, overhanging muzzle, and the flap of skin and hair which hangs beneath the throat, known as the 'bell'.
They have long legs, a relatively short tail, and wide hooves which aid in walking over mud or snow. Males are larger than females, and have bony, hornlike antlers which are shed each winter and re-grown through the summer. The antlers of Eurasian elk are the largest of any deer species, spanning up to 2 metres across and weighing as much as 30kg.
Despite their ungainly appearance, elk are remarkably agile and can run silently through dense forests at speeds of up to 35mph. They are also good swimmers and can sustain a speed of up to 6 miles an hour. Their large ears can be rotated 180 degrees and their keen noses can find food below deep snow.
Elk eat twigs, bark, roots and the shoots of woody plants, especially willows and aspens. In winter, they browse on conifers, eating their needle-like leaves. They require 20kg of food per day when full their stomachs can weigh up to 65kg! So it's no surprise to discover that elk spend most of their time eating.
Wildwood Chief Executive of the Wildwood, Peter Smith, said.
"It's great to see these majestic beasts roaming in Wildwood after being absent from the UK for over 3000 years. They are joining our wolves, bison, wild boar, beavers and lynx helping to complete the wildwood collection, eventually representing all of our formally native species."
"Our mission is larger than teaching visitors and school children about our amazing natural heritage; we are working on restoring some of these animals to the wild. Our charitable vision is to rewild Britain and create natural landscapes, brimming full of wildlife for our future generations, and in the process save taxpayers millions in tax breaks and subsidies."
The elk are in a new enclosure situated behind the red deer area – look out for the new arrivals on your next visit to the park.
October Half Term events at Wildwood!
Everyday: 26th Oct - 3rd Nov - FREE daily talks and feeds around the park
Everyday: 26th Oct - 3rd Nov – Hallowe'en Trail
Track down the pumpkins around the park on the Wildwood Hallowe'en Trail.
£1 per entry (includes pencil and prize on completion) all proceeds go towards the Wildwood Pine Marten Appeal.
Sunday 27th Oct – Friday 1st November - FREE bird flight displays
2pm daily – free bird flight display with Pete from Falconry Southeast.
Come dressed as a fairy, imp, goblin or other magical creature (there will be prizes for the most imaginative costumes), have your face painted and make a fairy wand, crown and scroll of wishes to post in the fairy postbox.
2pm - 3.30pm. Costumes judged at 3pm. £2 per person*, one adult free per group. Drop in (no need to book)
Meet some of the animals that send shivers down your spine! Get in the hallowe'en mood with spiders, snakes and giant centipedes then make spooky spider crafts to take home.
2pm - 3.30pm daily. £3 per person*, one adult free per group. To book call the Wildwood Office on 01227 712 111
Tuesday 29th October – Photo Day
A day of wildlife photography around the park with tuition from our resident photographer. Enjoy special access around Wildwood with feeds to help you get close-up shots. Suitable for all levels and abilities. Gift vouchers also available.
9am - 4pm. £79 per person. Min age 18yrs. Please book with the Wildwood office on 01227 712 111.
Wednesday 30th October & Thursday 31st October – Hallowe'en Crafts
Get ready for the annual fright-fest and make spooky crafts including black cats, bats, spiders, rats and witches to decorate your home for Hallowe'en!
10.30am - 12pm or 2pm - 3.30pm daily. £3 per person*, one adult free per group. To book call the Wildwood Office on 01227 712 111
Friday 1st November – Celtic New Year Crafts
Celebrate the Celtic New Year with stories, totem animals and Celtic crafts to take home. Plus! discover your celtic ancestry in your feet!
2pm- 3.30pm. £3 per person*, one adult free per group. To book call the Wildwood Office on 01227 712 111
Please book with the Wildwood office on 01227 712 111.
*Please note that Wildwood membership or entry fees must be paid to attend all events (excludes Photo Days, Night Tours, Conservation Courses and Keeper Experiences)
The Wildwood Team