Sunday, 27 February 2011

Barn Owls

With the recent sad loss of Milo, we have had a slight re-shuffle with our Barn Owls. Now Twilight and Eclipse are housed in the Barn enclosure (they were originally in the aviary), and Alba has moved down to the aviary to join the remaining chick from last years clutch.

Now with our pair in the Barn, it means we have barn owls back on our camera. Hopefully more chicks will be hatched later this year and you will be able to see them develop on our camera in the coffee chop.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

New Foxes Arrive at the BWC

After the sad passing of Marley, late last year, we have kept our eyes open for a nice young friendly fox to pair up with Biscuit. The original idea was to hand rear a cub from this year, but then we were asked if we would like a tame fox called Josh from Riverside Animal Centre.

Josh is a 6 year old dog fox who is very friendly, and not only does he come from the same place that Biscuit did. But he has also lived with biscuit in the past. This seemed like fate, and so yesterday saw the arrival of Josh to the British Wildlife Centre.

Along with Josh came a very old female fox called Dog. She is also very tame, and the London Wildcare Trust didn't want her left on her own. Being over 10 years she may well not last too long, but I am sure whatever life she does have here will be a happy one. We have re-named her Vixen so as to avoid confusion with the many school groups we take round.

You can see from the photos above, Josh couldn't wait to get out and about and explore his new home. Below, Vixen was a little shyer at first but soon settled in.

Be sure to come and meet our new residents soon. They are very friendly and would love to meet you.

Monday, 21 February 2011

2011 Photographic Competition

British Wildlife Centre, 2011 Photographic competition: Native & Natural

Today sees the launch of our new photographic competition. After last years success we have decided to run another competition this year, and have changed the format a little too. 

Instead of three competitions throughout the year, we now only run the one over the course of our busy season. However this is now split into six different categories. 

Animal Portraits

Animals in Motion

Animals and their Keepers

At home in their habitat

Artistic Interpretation


You may enter one, or all the above categories, but are limited to only two entries per category. Entries can be made email or at our flickr group in the relevant category

The winner and runners up of each category will be chosen by a judging panel made up by Centre owner, David Mills. Head Keeper and Centre photographer, Matt Binstead. And internationally renowned wildlife photographer, Andy Rouse. 

The winners and runners up of each category will be displayed for the following year in our Wildlife Photography Gallery in the reception centre, with links to photographers websites if requested.

The winners of each category will win a complementary family ticket to the Centre.

The overall winner, chosen from the 6 category winners, will win the fantastic prize of a 1-on-1 with the UK's top possessional wildlife photographer, Andy Rouse, here at the British Wildlife Centre. A prize worth £500!

The competition is open now, and is restricted to photographs taken here during 2011. 

Closing date is Friday the 18th of November, 2011. Photos will then be viewed and chosen over the Winter period before the winners being announced in early 2012.

Good luck to all who enter, lets make this competition as popular as last years!

For all the details of this competition please checkout out official website at 

Andy Rouse, Widlife Photographer and competition judge

Last years winner, Nigel Picknell

Friday, 18 February 2011

Half-term Opening

Just a reminder to you all that we are open to the general public for half-term next week, then from every weekend from March through till the end of October. Hope to see many of you here. And look out for the launch of our new photographic competition for 2011 on Monday!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Goodbye to Milo

A couple of nights ago saw the passing of one of our eldest, and most well known animals. Milo the barn owl. Milo died over night in his enclosure due to old age. He was raised here at the Centre over ten years ago, and since then had become a firm favourite with visitors of all ages.

For many years Milo was on welcoming duty in the reception area until we decided to retire him earlier this year due to him getting on a little bit. Milo was always on hand to greet our school groups and visiting photographers, as well as making many trips out for educational talks to various groups of size and ages.

Milo was a real asset to the Centre and will be missed by staff and visitors alike, but always remembered.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Cats and Rabbits on the move.

Continuing with our shuffling of animals, our wildcat kittens will be taken off display tomorrow and housed in an off-display enclosure until they are to be re-homed. The male will be going to another Centre later this year, and as some of you are already aware, the young female will be kept at the Centre and put back out on display with Dougal after Una has retired. It will not be long until the breeding season is under way, and we hope to have more kittens later this year to help the captive breeding programme.

Today we finished tidying up our rabbit enclosure. The outside area for the rabbits has had a bit of a spring clean, and now looks much better than before. A new batch of young rabbits, including a very friendly one called Sammy, are now its inhabitants. These will be soon be housed in only the warren and outside parts of their enclosure, thus allowing us to extend the hedgehogs into the current inside rabbit pen via a small bridge which will link the two pens.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Otter and Fox News

We have had a little re-shuffle with our otters of late. We have decided to keep hold of our two otter cubs that were born here earlier this year, and have made room for them in the middle of our three otter ponds. Oscar has been removed from this pond temporarily as he is under the weather, he is currently housed off-display until he recovers. He will then return to pair up with Lilly in our main pond. Stirling is still where he normally is.

At the same time, we are trying to catch up our fox cubs. Frodo and Flo are showing interest in mating again, and so we need to re-home the cubs. It looks like the Isle of Wight Zoo is keen to have them, therefore we are currently trying to catch them up to move on before any new cubs emerge from the earth.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Our Pine Martens to Help Find Wild Pine Martens

A couple of weeks ago I was asked if we could help in the surveying of wild pine martens in the UK, the request was for several pine marten scats to be sent to a Miss Louise Wilson at Wagtail UK Limited. Of course, we always try and help where we can, but it was not until I had contacted Louise a couple of times that I understood what the scats where to be used for.

Wagtail Limited is a company that trains and handles detection dogs. Although mainly still used by the police, immigration & customs and the Ministry of Defence the use of dogs as a surveying tool, locating scats of a particular species, is a new theory in the UK and Europe, but has proved very successful already over in the US.

Louise, with the help of Luna above, is hoping that by training Luna to sniff out pine marten scats she can not only help the surveying techniques for these elusive animals in the UK, but also bring and show how effective this relatively new technique in conservation is to Britain.

Vincent Wildlife Trust is showing a keen interest in the progression of Luna's training, and I an sure they will be working closely together in the future to try and establish a far more accurate status of pine martens in Great Britain today.

This all sounds very exciting, and we will be sending of scats from all our individual pine martens to aid with her efforts. To find out more about the work carried out by Wagtail UK have a look at their website linked here. And the new Conservation Dogs site here.

We of course wish Louise and Luna the best of luck with their training and future work in pine marten conservation.