Noah's News Blog
Jumbo delivery – our first elephant arrives at Noah’s Ark!
We’re thrilled to announce a jumbo delivery which has brought our first elephant to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm!
Beautiful Buta has arrived at our new Elephant Eden habitat and is settling in well to her luxurious new surroundings.
The £2 million Eden – the largest purpose-built elephant habitat in northern Europe – is now open and its formidable first resident is making herself at home.
Buta is soon going to have some familiar company as 19-year-old Nissim, one of her herd at Knowsley, will also be moving to Noah’s Ark shortly.
Buta is an African elephant who has come to us from Knowsley Safari Park, Merseyside, after months of special training. She travelled down in a specially-constructed elephant crate which she had been given access to and training in before she made the journey. This meant she only travelled to Noah’s Ark when she was relaxed enough to do so.
We’ve been working with Knowsley for nine months arranging the move, which allows the elephants to benefit from our new, spacious facilities and gives Knowsley the space to develop their new elephant house, due to open in 2016.
Knowsley’s experienced keepers have been preparing Buta for the move using pioneering Protected Contact (PC) training; a positive, reward-based system which sets the benchmark for elephant handling.
Elephants are encouraged to cooperate with their keepers by being given rewards at a training wall barrier, like a gate or fence. The keepers don’t go in with the elephants (unlike the Free Contact system used by some zoos) instead working with their elephants through training walls.
Safer for both animal and handler, PC allows elephants to take part voluntarily. We are the first zoo to have given elephants PC training before the move and commit to the sole use of PC for the duration of the elephant programme at Noah’s Ark.
20-acre Elephant Eden has been designed to offer enrichment and welfare advances for elephants already living in captivity.
Buta will benefit from a range of enriching features including mud wallows, a deep bathing pool and a private area of woodland to graze in.
At Noah’s Ark, Elephant Eden provides deep sand yards and sand fields to explore (which promote good foot health) and Buta will get hot showers – all under the careful watch of Noah’s Ark’s new Head Elephant Keeper Sandra de Rek, who brings 10 years of elephant management experience to the position.
Visitors can see Buta inside the Elephant Eden barn and outside in her sand yard.
Once Buta has got used to these areas, you’ll be able to see her explore the Elephant Eden habitat, making a fantastic day out in Bristol.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm statement on Longleat’s lioness Louisa
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm was saddened to hear on Saturday that Louisa the lioness and her cubs at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park had been euthanased due to apparent health problems.
Louisa came to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm as an 8-month-old cub from Linton Zoo in Cambridge in February 2010 and was rehomed at Longleat in January 2011.
Louisa was requested by Longleat to become part of a new pride being established at the safari park.
Longleat have explained that Louisa was exhibiting neurological behaviours which left them no option but to humanely euthanase her and her cubs which were also suffering from the same condition.
Louisa wasn’t bred at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm but had some minor health issues as a young cub prior to arrival and during some of her stay which were effectively controlled through a special diet under the direction of specialist vets and her symptoms alleviated.
The symptoms were successfully managed at Noah’s Ark with a diet supplemented by vitamin A.
On leaving us in 2011, Louisa was in good health and her medical records transferred with her.
Looking back at Louisa’s genetic history, the underlying health issues Longleat found have been suggested by the Safari Park to be the result of inbreeding 15-20 years ago. These historical issues predate the Louisa’s time at Longleat, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm and Linton Zoo and are no reflection of the standards of care given at the parks.
Longleat have significant experience caring for and breeding lions so we are confident they have made these difficult decisions based on expert guidance and have the best interests of their animals at the centre.
Our sympathies are with Longleat’s staff and keepers during this difficult time.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm has two lion brothers Zulu and Masai, Louisa’s brothers, at our park. Both are healthy, fit animals and are not suffering from the problems Louisa experienced.
Further details can be found in Longleat’s statements about Louisa and her cubs.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm responds to British Humanists and Prof. Alice Roberts
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol was recently re-awarded a ‘Quality Badge’ from the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom in recognition of our education provision for visiting schools. This week the British Humanist Association, in conjunction with Professor Alice Roberts of Birmingham University, has criticised the decision and claimed that we teach creationism or pseudo-science to school children during their visit.
Noah’s Ark has a full national-curriculum led Education Programme for schools from KS1 to A Level which provides workshops, outreach sessions and teaching resources for schools. As a popular tourist attraction, we welcome 170,000 visitors a year including 15,000 school children on organised field trips from Bristol, Somerset and south Wales.
Religious education, discussion of Christian views or creation is not part of our educational package for schools unless specifically requested by teachers and parents.
The Quality Badge is a nationally-recognised benchmark that brings together all existing safety and quality badges into one easily identifiable mark, demonstrating the institution holding it has met several stringent indicators for education. The detailed assessments are conducted by the government-appointed Council for Learning Outside the Classroom, which formally assumed national responsibility for LOtC on the 1st April 2009.
There appears to be some deliberate misrepresentation of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm by Prof. Alice Roberts and the BHA, implying the zoo teaches creationism and pseudo-science to school children as part of their organised visit. This is simply not the case.
Prof. Roberts has not seen or been part of a school visit to Noah’s Ark and has not spoken to our Education Officers about the content of their workshops or teaching, although she was invited for an official visit by Directors last year and did not respond. This raises serious questions about the validity of her comments.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is a privately owned park run by Christian proprietors which provides some displays and information boards at the zoo discussing creation, evolution, recolonisation theory and the biblical story of Noah and the Ark. These are in areas of the zoo where interested visitors may choose to read them if they wish to and are designed to encourage people to consider whether there is evidence for a Creator in a natural world clearly shaped by evolution.
We encourage people to consider the different views and the scientific theories that shape our thinking and reach their own conclusions.
The ‘Noah’s Ark’ theme at the zoo has novel value for families enjoying our animal park and we tie in a light Christian message for visitors to explore should they wish as part of their day out.
We have had no complaints from visiting schools, indeed much the opposite: glowing reports from teachers after a visit are common and we have seen a significant yearly increase in school group bookings. We host a wide range of schools and age groups, including state, private, atheist groups and faith schools.
Noah’s Ark has won awards at national and regional level, including ‘Access for All’ in the Bristol Tourism and Hospitality Awards in recognition of our provision for people of all ages, gender, physical health and beliefs.
The level of animosity directed at Noah’s Ark by followers of Prof. Roberts and the BHA based on the confusing information they have given out is unfair for staff and Keepers who work tirelessly to provide a safe, enjoyable and educational day out for visitors of all beliefs and none.
We thank the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom for their balanced and fair response to the comments received.