Today was our official opening of our new exhibit for 2012, the "Nocturnal House." This new exhibit houses 5 new enclosures to display our most nocturnal of animals by swapping their day and night around with a special lighting system. This computer controlled system imitates the year by having shorter days in the Winter and longer days in the Summer, it also dims the light in the morning and brightens in the evening to mimic the dusk and dawn period.
Chris Packham was here to cut the ribbon, and do all the talking to the press. Chris is a good friend of the Centre, and genuinely seemed excited by our new venture.
The main enclosure is for our bats. Above is a photo of a Noctule bat which was on hand at the opening, but our enclosure will display just 3 species... The common pipistrelle, the serotine bat and the brown long eared bat. It is the first enclosure of this kind to display British bats to the public in this way.
We have established close links with several bat groups to help with the design of the enclosure, and the skills involved with looking after these specialised animals. The Bat Conservation Trust, Surrey Bat Group and in particular the Sussex Bat Group and Amanda Miller.
Amanda has been a huge source of information in all aspects of bat care, and has even donated some of her bats to our care. She will remain a close contact with all bat work we do.
As well as the bats we have a large enclosure for a pair of hedgehogs, 2 smaller enclosures for hazel dormice and a pen for our edible dormice who were the stars of the show today!
You can see sneak peek of the new house above, but do come and have a look for yourselves. It may well take a little while for the animals to settle down to their reversed routine, but once they have I am sure it will be a huge success.