It's that time of the month again when we let you know what's been happening at the Wildwood Trust and what we have planned for the near future. We have lots of exciting events at the park during Easter, Spring news, an avian update and some upcoming fundraising events that you can get involved in.
It's been a busy month. We have had a visit from the Lord Mayor of Canterbury to welcome our new choughs to the park, we've had six new wolves arrive at our Escot park and they're settling in well, our hibernating animals have woken up and the bears are close to being moved into their large enclosure. Read below to find out more!
If you want to find out more about any of the happenings at Wildwood, then please get in touch and thank you for your continued support!
Saturday 1st April - Monday 17th April
Spring is in the air, new life is blossoming at Wildwood and our Easter programme is now in place. We have plenty of activities to entertain adults and children over the egg-citing two week period, culminating in the big Easter weekend. We have an 'Easter Wonderland' just beyond the entrance, which will contain bunnys, chicks and other cute critters. We have free talks, feeds and activities throughout the holidays which are listed below. We are also teaming up with our friends at the Wychurst Saxon Village for some medieval fun and frolics, and have a free 'Hunt the bunny' trail with a prize draw which takes place over the Easter weekend. Egg-cellent!
'Find the Bunny' trail
It's free, it's over the four day extended Easter weekend and it involves bunny rabbits. Help your little ones to find our grass bunnies throughout the park, fill out the trail card with the correct answers and then enter into our prize draw for a chance to win vouchers.
Saxon Weekend: 11am-3pm on 8th & 9th April
Our friends at the Wychurst Saxon Village are holding an 'Early Medieval' day on Sunday the 9th April in their grounds located next to our bear enclosure. The day will be hosted by a dozen members of the Regia Anglorum and will be full of Saxon, Viking and Norman activities including:
* Talks "throughout the day" * "Display of Arms" at 2:30pm * Food display in the authentic 60ft x 30ft, 11th Century Anglosaxon longhall * Ecclesiastical display in the longhall - incorporating a discussion on animal husbandry (bees/rabbits) * Weapons/hunting display * Woodworking * Combat display * Textiles
Cash only tickets can be purchased at the admissions building at the entrance to Wildwood or on the gate leading to the Saxon village (the gate is located at the exit of the bear bridge). Tickets for each day will be priced at: * £5.00 for adults * £2.50 for children * £10.00 for families (2 adults & 2 children)
See the Regia Anglorum website for more information on the Wychurst Saxon village.
Daily talks & activities
We have fun and free educational talks by our dedicated team of keepers throughout the week and free activities throughout the park. All of our talks will take place at the animal's enclosure apart from Water Voles and Water Shrews which will be at the Conservation Centre. All of our free activities will be taking place at and around our large white marquee near the entrance to the park.
Saturday 1st April Talks 11:00 - Red Squirrels 12:00 - Wildcats 14:00 - Red Choughs 15:00 - Pine Martens Activities 12:30 - 13:30 - Touchtables 14:30 - 16:00 - Touchtables
All of our events take place between 10:30 and 11:30 and cost £4 per session apart from our Junior Keeper day. All events must be booked in advance. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01227712111 to book an event or find out more information.
Saturday 1st April Nature Detectives Conservation scientists often have to study animals just from the traces they leave behind, can you rise to the challenge? Take a closer look at a range of animal artefacts such as skulls, antlers, nests and fur to see if you can work out which animal each object is linked to.
Tuesday 4th April Egg-cellent enrichment Help make some Easter egg themed treats for our critters then see them delivered to the animals on a walk around the park.
Wednesday 5th April Conservation Club: Lynx A closer look at lynx and why conservationists are keen to bring them back to Britain. Learn about them by visiting our lynx and hearing fun facts, challenge yourself to jump as high as a lynx and make lynx crafts to take home.
Thursday 6th April CSI Wildwood: Who killed Mr. Bunny? Investigate a woodland murder! Look at the clues including animal tracks, poo samples and blood swabs, to see if you can solve the mystery of who killed Mr Bunny.
Friday 7th April Teddy bear's picnic Bring your favourite bear friend along to hear bear stories, make yourself a pair of bear ears to take home and visit our bears to hear more about them.
Saturday 8th April Food, digestion and poo Like most animals we love our food but what happens to our food once it enters our mouths? With hands-on activities you’ll track the journey our food takes as it is digested. Take a closer look at a range of animal poo and discover what it can tell us about the animal’s diet. Make a model of a horse’s digestive system to take home.
Tuesday 11th April Cute chick crafts Join us to celebrate spring and get ready for Easter by making a variety of chick-themed crafts to take home.
Wednesday 12th April Bunny bonanza Join us to celebrate spring and get ready for Easter by helping to deliver some treats to our bunnies and make a variety of bunny-themed crafts to take home.
Thursday 13th April Conservation Club: Red squirrels A closer look at red squirrels. Find out where red squirrels live and why they need help from conservationists. Learn awesome squirrel facts and make squirrel crafts to take home.
Friday 14th April Easter crafts Join in our Easter celebrations by making lots of Easter-themed crafts to take home with you.
Saturday 15th April Junior Zookeeper £50 per child, no adults. 10:00-12:00 Find out what it takes to be a zookeeper. Prepare and deliver food to some of our animals and get stuck in to some mucking out. Discover how we make our animals lives more interesting and natural. Get a commemorative t-shirt, workbook and certificate to take home.
Our annual student research conference was held on Wednesday 1st March with speakers and attendees from Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Kent, Hadlow College, and Manchester Metropolitan University amongst others. The annual conference seeks to celebrate research that Wildwood has supported and to disseminate the findings in a relaxed, welcoming environment.
Topics were across a broad spectrum, from pine marten food preferences and Scottish wildcat breeding success to the purpose of whiskers! Many thanks to all who made this event such a success, we're already looking forward to next year's conference!
The Wildwood Trust is delighted to announce that a pack of six wolves have arrived from Sweden to their Escot site in East Devon. After a two-day journey, starting at Stockholm, Sweden, all six of the siblings (four males, two females) have arrived safely and will now begin to settle into their new home. Their arrival has been highly anticipated by visitors, and marks a significant moment in the Trust in its newly acquired Devon location.
The six young wolves, Elvis, Sting, Lemmy, Moby and their sisters, PJ and KD, are part of an ongoing research project which began at Tovetorp in Sweden. The research, which will be continued by Wildwood staff, seeks to understand the crucial early stages of wolf domestication when our ancestors first invited these ferocious predators into their homes.
To allow the wolves to settle in as naturally and comfortably as possible, they will undergo a quarantine period of four months. They will not be on view to the public straight away but gradually introduced to protect them from and monitor any sign of disease. This quarantine period also allows them to get to know their keepers, surroundings, and establish a new routine.
Choughs back in Kent
The Lord Mayor of Canterbury visited Wildwood this week to welcome the chough back to Kent.
The chough, a member of the crow family, is one of the rarest birds in the UK and was driven to extinction in Kent well over 100 years ago. The chough has a long-standing association with Kent and still lives on in the coat of arms of Canterbury City and the University of Kent, and in Shakespeare’s King Lear (Act iv – Fields near Dover, Scene 6) where he introduces the chough in his description of the Dover Cliffs.
We have taken delivery of three new chough as part of a ground-breaking project to assess if these amazing birds can be released back into the Kent countryside. Famed as acrobats of the sky, the chough naturally performs majestic flying displays which can now be seen by visitors to Kent’s largest bird aviary at the Wildwood Trust. Wildwood’s team of expert keepers hope to establish a breeding programme for the birds and supplement with a reintroduction project if deemed feasible.
Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Cllr George Metcalfe, said: "The chough is an iconic feature of Canterbury's history and they take pride of place on the city's crest and regalia.
"Legend associates the chough with the murder of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. It was said that a black crow-like bird on the day of the murder was seen pecking in the bloody detritus in what is today known as the Martyrdom where Becket was killed. For many years choughs were known as "Beckets" in the late Middle Ages. Another theory is that Becket's name was derived from his father's long nose or beak.
"Whatever the truth, we are thrilled to have choughs here in the district once again. Their arrival at the Wildwood Trust Animal Park is most welcome and I would encourage everyone to go and see these marvellous birds for themselves."
Ike and Bena are showing all the signs of potential parenthood. They have been nest building and Bena has spent much time sitting on the homely pile of branches. Chances are that we may have baby ravens on the way, but we'll be sure to keep you posted in next month's newsletter.
Due to directives and advice from DEFRA, Wildwood are keeping their birds protected from potential infection from migrating bird populations. This directive is in place until further notice and is why our chickens are not currently meandering around the park.
Hibernation is over?
All of our hibernating animals have started to wake up. Our adders are bathing in the sun, as are our terrapins and all of our other animals, who have been out for the winter, are making an appearance. Including our bears...
The bears are back!
Our bear brothers have been sleeping away some of the winter for the first time since they were born and have been kept in their smaller enclosure for monitoring purposes. They are now almost fully out of hibernation and we will be opening the doors to their large enclosure, and opening our bear bridge, on Friday 24th March. It will be a momentous day and we'll be letting you know early next week exactly what's happening on the day (as soon as the bears let us know).
New entrance road
After a week of digging mud and laying concrete, our rangers have produced a solid new road to softly caress the wheels of incoming motor vehicles. They’ve also produced an even more comfortable path for walkers.
Play park additions
Our new addition to the play park is fully underway and the plans are very exciting. We want to leave it as a surprise, but you’ll be able to see the progress week on week.
Park opening hours
From Saturday 27th March our closing times will change to our summer programme:
Last entry at 5.00pm / Park closing at 6.00pm.
We are still open every day from 10.00am
Massive thanks to the Kent Union's Volunteer Projects Co-ordinator and the 12 students who helped out at Wildwood as part of their volunteers week. We dug up silver birch saplings from our woodland management area and re planted around 50 trees into our Bison enclosure. Good work everybody!
Our Arctic fox experience is now fully booked for the rest of this month.
The beautiful trio of Lya, Bard and Teddy have been entertaining experience participants for the winter and will be back again in the Autumn. Gift Vouchers are still available to use later this year.
In further news, the siblings are moulting for the warmer months and will begin to look a lot more grey. This is perfectly natural as they begin to gain their summer coats.
Do you love British wildlife and woodland? Are you interested in helping us to help our wonderful native animals? One of the most enjoyable ways of giving money to a cause that you love is to start fundraising.
We're in partnership with the Kent Messenger Charity Team as one of their registered charities for the following four events happening in 2017. They're a lot of fun and Kent Messenger arranges everything. All you have to do is pledge and turn up on the day!
KM Colour run
Sunday June 11, 2017 staged at Betteshanger Country Park, Deal.
KM Dragon boat event
Sunday July 2, 2017 staged at Mote Park, Maidstone.
KM Big bike ride
Sunday April 23, 2017 starting at Betteshanger Country Park, Deal.
KM Charity walk
Sunday June 25, 2017 staring at Mote Park, Maidstone.