Saturday, 31 October 2020

October Update

Our otter cubs born a year a go have now both moved on to new adventures. Last year Dave and Nicole where born here at the end of the October half term to mum Emmy. They have stayed with mum and dad in our main enclosure until about two weeks ago where we caught them up and sent them off to their new homes. 

Dave, now named Maxwell, has gone to the UK Wild Otter Trust based in the South West to a luxurious enclosure to help promote the great work they do there for otter conservation and education. His sister won't be too far away, Nicole has moved to the West Country Wildlife Photographic Centre.

At the beginning of the month our polecat kits born here this year were collected by Ferret Rescue Surrey for release. They had been a lot of fun on display, and after a short period off display to get them used to looking after themselves they have now all gone off to be released. 

This gave us space to move one of our breeding pairs back on to display. We thought we would try our newer young breeding pair out there to see how they settle on view. So far they have been great, so you can now see Paul(cat) and Paula(cat) at the other end of the Centre next to our mink. 

A dormouse check and count confirmed we were as successful as we thought we where this year, with 19 pups born from two pairs... two litters each. These won't be going for release just yet with Winter now creeping up fast, but will be ready for release next year as part of the joint conservation programme with the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders Group and the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species. 

Unfortunately, with covid restrictions in place, we haven't been able to open our nocturnal house for you over the summer to see our dormice and bats. But we would of been closing it this time of year anyway. They have now all gone in to hibernation. Hopefully when they wake next year we will be able to open the nocturnal house too for you all to see them. 

Our other hibernating mammal is the hedgehog, and they too have begun to think about sleeping for the winter. Around half of ours are already and I am sure it won't be long till the others are too. With this in mind, as in previous years, our keeper talks change slightly. Hedgehogs will no longer feature as a talk until they wake again next spring. 

The shorter days and darker afternoons means we close a little earlier too. After tomorrow our last talk will be the owl display at 3pm, before closing at 4pm for our winter season.

With all these animal going or hiding away, it's nice to know we have some that are new. Currently off display is a new weasel, Woodrow, who came to us from a rescue centre too tame to be released. Hopefully soon we will have him on display, and you will certainly know about it. He is very vocal!

New for this year, for the quieter months with shorter days, the Centre is offering "Winter Photographic Days" These days will only be an hour shorter than our usual days, but for a much reduced price. Hedgehogs and badgers won't be on the schedule, but all the others will be as per a normal photo day and the same access to enclosures etc will be there.

The day will be an hour shorter due to the daylight hours, and cheaper due to the less reliable weather. But I can say that our animals will be just as reliable, no matter the weather, and with them all being in their winter coats, looking at their best. The softer even light and smaller group size may even appeal to many of you.

Remember, if you want to come and see us, we are currently pre-booking only via our website. You can also find out more about our winter photo days there and private "bubble" tours if you are looking for something a little more exclusive over December and January. 

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