New arrivals at Shepreth Wildlife Park
There have been a few developments at Shepreth Wildlife Park of late.
This includes the birth of a baby lemur and the acquisition of a fancy new car to transfer prickly patients to and from the park’s Hedgehog Hospital.
The wildlife park has recently welcomed a new ring-tailed and yet-to-be-named lemur into the world. Head keeper, Dean Ward – who is in charge of this particular species of lemur at the park – said: “We had a baby born about a week and a half ago now, so not very old at all.
“Peachy, who is the mum, had a female baby called Meg two years ago, so this is her second baby in two years. She has been here a long time – probably more than 10 years now – and Albus [the father] joined her about four or five years ago.”
The ring-tailed lemurs inhabit an island at the park. “They’re water-phobic,” explained Dean, “so it’s a nice natural barrier for them.”
He added that the animals are at Shepreth for conservation reasons. “Even though they are high in numbers in captivity, they unfortunately, like most lemur species, are suffering from habitat loss. In Madagascar they’ve lost 90 per cent of their natural rainforest, so many lemur species are suffering in the wild. So to have them in captivity is a good thing for education and conservation.”
Dean says that ring-tailed lemurs are fairly common in zoos and wildlife parks.
“But we do use ours for education and awareness about what’s going on in Madagascar,” he said.
“We also do ‘meet the lemur’ experiences, where people can go over and meet the lemurs – and the lemurs usually come up to people, rather than people having to go up to them.
“They come and jump on your shoulder and everything. I always advise people not to try and stroke them or put their hand in the food bucket when the lemurs have got their heads in there, but they’re very friendly. We have three adult females, one juvenile female, one male and obviously the baby as well now. A nice group.”
Black-and-white ruffed lemurs can also be found at the park. “They’re quite a noisy group,” said Dean, “three boys – a bachelor group.”
He added: “All lemur species come from Madagascar, so again with our ruffed lemurs, we do a lemur talk at 2.30pm every day and we always talk about the habitat loss in Madagascar.”
The ruffed lemurs are kept separate from the ring-tailed variety. “I think other zoos do have mixed exhibits, but we keep ours apart,” said Dean.
Meanwhile, over at the park’s Hedgehog Hospital, which rescues more than 800 hedgehogs every year, the staff there have received a car, courtesy of the Buckingham and Stanley Group, to be used as an ambulance.
Hospital manager Sasha Sebright said: “It’s pretty incredible and it’s pretty recognisable, and it will be great for us for so many reasons.
“We do a lot of vet visits, especially in the summer, we do a lot of release site checks, we take the hedgehogs to their release sites, we pick up food donations.
“I think just with the design of the car, it will raise so much awareness because I don’t think a lot of people realise why hedgehogs might need care of any kind. So I think it will be a great tool for us and also for educational purposes.”
For the last six years, volunteers and hospital staff have used their own cars and petrol, but thanks to the new vehicle this is no longer the case. This flashy new ambulance will allow hedgehogs to be released back into the wild in style.
More by this authorAdrian Peel