Noah's News Blog

Summer fun for animals and visitors in Bristol

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Elephants Janu and M’Changa cooling off in their pool at Noah’s Ark this week.

Summer has well and truly delivered this week at Noah’s Ark, with our animals making the most of warm, sunny days.. and playing up for the visitors!

Wednesday saw our cheeky African elephants Janu and M’Changa take a dip in their private swimming pool to get out of the heat of the day.. and take great delight in splashing visitors by swinging their trunks through the water! Not that the crowd of amused public minded, leaving the park with a great story to tell their friends.

Visitors to the park have been soaking up the sun, whilst enjoying the range of attractions and events within our 100 acre park. Our popular Elephant Trail continues until Saturday 3rd September, so if you haven’t seen Europe’s largest elephant art trail you’ve still got time.

Showcasing elephant models designed by musician Joss Stone and reality TV star Khloe Kardashian, our Elephant Trail is run in partnership with the important elephant-conservation charity Elephant Parade, with the aim of raising awareness about the challenges facing African and Asian elephants in the wild and supporting key projects.

Celebrating over a decade working with the Reptile Zone in Bristol to produce our Reptile Fortnight event, this years Shows from the 1st t0 13th August were a huge success – safely introducing our visitors to some of the world’s deadliest snakes and reptiles and expelling unhelpful myths and fears about them in the process. We’re all about bringing people close to nature and educating them in the process!

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A Spectacled bear hanging out in a tree to keep cool at the zoo.

In fact, we love providing fun learning experiences for you – our daily educational keeper talks are a fun way to widen your knowledge regarding our amazing animals. Visit us during the summer holidays and our experts will tell you all about reptiles, big cats, elephants, giraffes and more, so make sure you take a look at our event timetable and head to the location in time for the talk.

With a couple of weeks left of the school summer holidays, now’s the perfect time to visit the South West’s biggest zoo either for the first time, or for a repeat visit if it’s been a while. With 15 indoor and outdoor adventure play zones, daily bumpy tractor rides out across the farm with stunning views and the biggest, most exotic animals in the region we’re sure you’ll have a fantastic day out in Bristol.

We’re pleased to offer discounted Day Tickets online to make booking your visit easier – visit our online shop to get yours today.

As usual, we’re open Monday – Saturday 10:30am – 5pm – come and see us!

 


King of the Beasts – World Lion Day 2016 celebrated at zoos around the globe

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‘King of the jungle’, or ‘king of the beasts’; lions have captivated humans for centuries – arguably one of nature’s proudest mammals and greatest hunters.

Here at Noah’s Ark we joined in this week’s global appreciation of the species for World Lion Day 2016 on Wednesday 10th August, a chance for zoological institutions and the general public to acknowledge the importance of African and Asiatic lions and support worldwide conservation efforts.

We are proud to look after two beautiful African lions within our Big Cat Sanctuary at the zoo, Masai and Arusha. Masai was born at Linton Zoo in 2009 and at 7 years old is now a mature adult male. Female Arusha joined the park in 2013 from Heythrop Wild Animal Park in Oxon and is 5 years old.

Paired together in 2015, we are hoping our loved-up lions will breed in the next few years and form their own pride. Part of the focus of World Lion Day is to support wild conservation but also responsible breeding in captivity.

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Like other zoos and animal parks around the world, visitors to Noah’s Ark on Wednesday 10th August got to take part in a range of fun activities and events to celebrate these majestic animals. We were delighted to raise money for a special charity formed in the UK in support of the protection and management of lions both in the wild and in zoos – the Safina Lion Project.

The charity is named after a popular lioness from Linton Zoo, Safina, who is also the mum of our male lion Masai. So a charity with links very close to home!

The Safina Lion Project works to ensure a responsible approach to lion species survival on 3 key issues:

  • to promote a responsible captive breeding programme in zoos to ensure a healthy gene pool
  • to raise awareness and funds for responsible lion conservation projects carried out in Africa
  • the belief that as a species we are responsible to ensure that we do what we can to help save the ‘King of the Beasts’ before it is too late

As part of a busy lion-themed day, our visitors enjoyed a special informative Lion Talk at 1pm, including being able to watch the lions enjoy blood lollies, a favourite (if slightly gory) treat on a warm day! The day also featured a craft stall with face masks and lion-related items for sale in support of our chosen charity.

We also included a prize draw at the end of the day, with 3 lucky winners getting their hands on a Lion Feeding Experience, a Lion Adoption and a Family Day Ticket. For those not quite so lucky, if getting up close to Big Cats is your thing – why not book yourself onto one of our Big Cat Experiences? You’ll get within a whisker of nature’s most impressive felines… if you dare!

With International Tiger Day and World Lion Day both celebrated in the last fortnight, we’re pleased to have joined the global support for these amazing animals. We’re not finished yet either, this Friday 12th August we are continuing our push for conservation and education with World Elephant Day. Join us for a colourful day full of family events, an informative Elephant Presentation and a special unveiling…! Visit us to find out more…


Animal escapes – what zoo’s do to plan, prevent and protect

Zoos are incredible places to visit both educationally and for leisure, a long-standing popular day out for all. Showcasing rare, exotic animals – some big, some small – and each with unique behaviour and temperaments, they are a real treat for visitors. But it’s also a challenge for Keepers and zoo managers to provide the best environment for the animals, and protect them and the paying public – a busy park full of different species with unique requirements and thousands of excitable visitors.

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A frequent question from interested visitors, prompted often by stories in the news and social media is “what happens if a lion/tiger/bear/elephant escapes?”. It is rare, but sometimes with the best intentions, facilities and training, animals do escape from zoos and safari parks – and it can happen to the best of them. What’s important is how we plan for these rare events and what we do to resolve them.

Just this year, a plucky (and not very dangerous!) capybara made a successful bid for freedom at popular Toronto Zoo and hid out for 19 days before being recaptured by relieved Keepers.This summer, the excellent Dartmoor Zoo, well known from the feature-film “We brought a Zoo” staring Matt Damon, had a clever lynx escape, hiding out on Dartmoor before being expertly recaptured.

So, what do zoos do to prevent escapes and plan for in case they do happen? Is there specialist training and are you, the visitor, in safe hands when you visit your local animal park. In brief, yes. With today’s environmental licensing, local authority management and zoo-industry knowledge-sharing, zoos are the best equipped they’ve ever been on the whole to deal with situations when their animals don’t quite follow the script!

Here at Noah’s Ark, like our colleagues at other UK zoos we have an in-depth training and Animal Escape Policy procedure in place. (Just in case a rhino decides to explore Somerset, or a bear goes for a wander on the look out for honey..!)

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Every year, all zoo staff take part in a full Animal Escape Drill, recreating the (unlikely) situation of an animal escaping its enclosure. Each team has a specific role, whether it be rounding up the animal, marshaling visitors to safety, calling support from the vet, police or fire brigade or readying firearms in the very rare instance they need to be used to protect human life.

Amusing for some to watch, to recreate the moment, a Keeper or Groundsman will often take the role of the ‘escapee’ animal (sometimes with animal costume or face-mask!) and make a dash for freedom. This is where each team’s training comes in – identifying the category of animal risk (Red, Amber, Green traffic light system to denote the risk to people), and creating a recapture or containment plan.

The role of key members of staff is important, particularly senior animal managers who decide how best to attempt recapture with their knowledge of the species but also the individual animal’s temperament and character. Is it docile, wary of people, easily frightened or food-oriented?

With a range of big-zoo animals at Noah’s Ark, elephants, rhino, big cats, giraffes and bears are fascinating for visitors to see in their habitats and houses. Visitors are often interested to hear that the construction of each house and enclosure is carefully planned months in advance to consider the best containment methods, the strength of barriers tested and the escape behaviour of the species. You don’t want to build a nice strong fence only to find your bear can just dig underneath! There’s a lot of hidden engineering in zoos…

Although this is all serious and important, it does also contain a lighthearted element – animal escape drills at zoos are now synonymous with comedy YouTube videos.. mainly thanks to Japanese zoos who began a trend by filming their training and allowing paying visitors to come to watch! Check out this amusing Zebra escape drill.. comedy gold.


Jokes aside, these days zoos are confident in their park safety and animal/visitor protection and you’re unlikely to ever see anything as dramatic as a lion jumping a fence during your day visit. Offering incredible up-close experiences with beautiful, inspiring animals, why not plan your visit this summer to your nearest zoo to see them in person? You’re in safe hands!