Noah's News Blog

2,000,000th visitor welcomed to top Somerset attraction

Sustainable home of the ‘big zoo’ animals celebrates record visit

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Dave and Lili, the 67th and 68th visitors to Noah’s Ark on 14th September.

 

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall is celebrating a visitor milestone, having welcomed its 2 millionth visitor through the gates.

The 100 acre big zoo animal park in Somerset, home to elephants, rhinos and big cats has grown rapidly since its first full season in 1999. Originally Noah’s Ark Farm Centre, a small petting farm giving the public a chance to see where their food comes from, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is now an internationally recognised zoo involved in European research programmes.

With a series of high profile new animal exhibits built and opened to visitors in the past 5 years including the 20 acre Elephant Eden, one of the largest habitats for African elephants in the UK and the specially landscaped Andean Adventure; Noah’s Ark has seen visitor numbers surge to over 200,000 a year.

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From humble beginnings with 25,000 visits in its first full season, the 100 acre animal park has invested significantly in annual improvements to visitor facilities and adding new exhibits and play zones to provide new attractions and raise its profile.

The 2 millionth visitor was father and daughter Dave and Lili on 14th September, the 67th and 68th visitors through the gates on the day. The pair hadn’t visited the park before and enjoyed taking in the big zoo animals and using the adventure play.

The zoo has a history of sustainable development, winning Gold in the Green Tourism Business Scheme in 2016 for the second time in recognition of its energy-saving and carbon reducing activities.

One of only 4 UK zoos to have achieved the kitemark, Noah’s Ark has invested heavily in green energy projects including biomass heating for visitors (and animals!), solar panelling, wind turbines and rainwater recycling.

Noah’s Ark celebrated a record-breaking summer with a busy August seeing visitors enjoying the parks popular Elephant Trail event, part of the world’s biggest elephant art trail created by the charity Elephant Parade™.

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A house fit for a… Skunk! Guinness gets an eco-house at green award-winning zoo

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Keepers at Noah’s Ark transporting an inquisitive Guinness to his new home.

A lucky skunk called Guinness has this week taken up residence in a special eco-house created for him at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, the South West’s green-award winning zoo.

The stripey 5 year old male skunk, a favourite of Keepers at the 100 acre animal park due to his inquisitive and friendly nature, took in the sights and smells of a new wooden house made using reclaimed materials in the zoo’s North America section.

Gold award-winners in the Green Tourism Business Scheme, Noah’s Ark is not new to the idea of sustainable practise – in the past two years the park has installed two of the UK’s highest profile ‘green’ zoo habitats; Elephant Eden, a 20 acre paradise for nature’s biggest mammal and Andean Adventure, a South American landscaped playground for Spectacled Bears.

Using the skills of their experienced Grounds team who are used to creating naturalistic and carbon-reducing enclosures, Guinness now has everything a skunk could wish for in his new home. A warm wooden house, uniquely insulated with sheep’s wool cavity filling and built from recycled timber, a dry yard and a spacious grass area to explore once he’s settled in.

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The design of the new development was fabricated using a range of re-purposed materials, including metalwork and hinges leftover from the recently completed bear habitat and wooden panelling from sheds saved from previous projects.

Noah’s Ark Deputy Grounds Manager Mike Bradly comments: “We’re glad to give this new home to Guinness and see him enjoying his new surroundings. Our team are keen to be sustainable in these projects and we’re used to being inventive in reusing materials and harnessing natural products from the environment around us. Guinness is pretty inquisitive, so we’re sure visitors will enjoy the opportunity to see him”.

Situated in the North America section on the main visitor route around the zoo, Guinness will be neighbours to a growing family of Prairie Dogs. Keepers hope to find a mate for Guinness soon, with the new home being more than big enough for two!

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Guinness taking his first steps out to his yard.

Sure to be a popular addition to the park, if you’re planning a visit to see him check out our opening times and prices and find out a little more about the zoo and our other animals.


Hammocks for Bears! Avon Fire and Rescue partner with Noah’s Ark

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Hammocks for bears and swings for Gibbons… What’s that all about, we hear you cry?

Well, courtesy of a new partnership with the generous Avon Fire and Rescue, we’ll soon be providing new playthings for some of our more active animals – using recycled fire hose!

Our local Fire Department put their thinking caps on when they came to dispose of reels of industrial fire hosing, no longer fit for protecting local residents but in good enough condition for a new life somewhere else. Knowing zoos like Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm like using novel enrichment for their animals, they wondered if we could make something fun for our charges. We certainly can…

Taking delivery of three 23m reels of 70mm, 45mm & 19mm last week, our Keepers have already begun making a range of fun playthings for our Spectacles Bears, Siamang Gibbons and Ring-tailed lemurs, amongst others. Our characterful bear brothers Tupa and Sonco love to climb (and chill out..) so what better than a nice big outdoor hammock for them to get up into? These types of enrichment have gone down a treat with mammal species at animal parks around the world like Toronto Zoo – check out this great mix of photos on Pinterest.

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Although zoos like using quirky animal projects like this for nice photos and PR stunts, they do have a real purpose in enriching the daily lives of the animals we look after. It’s crucial we encourage each and every animal in our care to be active, physically and mentally – using all their natural behaviours and impulses to keep them engaged with their environment. The best of zoos have a great balance between showing animals to the public whilst creating as natural a home as possible, with welfare the number 1 priority. We’re pleased to have created two purpose-built welfare-improving habitats for species of conservation interested recently; Elephant Eden, Europe’s largest home for zoo elephants, and Andean Adventure, a bears paradise with it’s own hills and running stream.

Here at Noah’s Ark we usually incorporate animal enrichment into our annual Events, a chance for our visitors to watch Keepers prepare novel treats or toys for a species and even take part in a practical and educational workshop during the day. Popular Events like Woo at the Zoo and Pumpkin Fun Day include activities for families to engage with like this – visit us this autumn to get involved.

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Although the holidays are coming to an end, there’s still lots of see and do with us during the week and at weekends. Catering for over 30,000 school children on organised trips each year we have a host of ideas if you’re a teacher planning an educational visit. And if you’re local to the area and haven’t visited us for a while – come and see whats changed, there’s a reason why we’re known as ‘home of the big zoo animals‘ with a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor!

For ease, why not buy your tickets online before you travel to speed up your entry and make a saving?

We hope to welcome you to our park soon, we’re sure you’ll have a blast.