10,000 visitors go wild for Almondsbury's new conservation park Wild Place
WITH 10,000 visitors flocking through the gates of Almondsbury’s new wildlife conservation park in its very first month, the exotic attraction is fast becoming a favourite in the region.
The unassuming Wild Place is quietly making a name for itself around the village and South Gloucestershire as a zoo unlike any other, with okapi, zebras and eland roaming freely the wide open grounds of Hollywood Tower Estate, off Blackhorse Hill.
As part of its innovative approach to conservation, the park, launched by Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society on July 22, is comprised of various eco-systems including an East African Savannah, designed to recreate as closely as possible animals' natural habitat.
But children’s obvious favourite is the Madagascar experience’s lemur walkthrough and its replica of the island village where the society has worked tirelessly to promote conservation and protect endangered species.
There, 13 mongoose, ring-tailed and red-bellied lemurs hop from tree to tree, going about their business and often stopping inches away from visitors’ faces to catch a better glimpse of the crowds gathered around them.
Esther Hollow, from Bristol, told the Gazette Wild Place was the ideal “mellow” setting for her four-year-old twins Sammi and Becca to observe wild animals and truly become familiar which the cheeky lemurs in surrounding extremely close to their own.
“It’s lovely," she said. "Because there are not so many different things like in Bristol Zoo, you spend longer watching the animals. You can see different behaviours. It’s much more mellow and you feel much more part of their habitat.”
Emily Taylor, also from Bristol, accompanied by her two very excited toddlers added: “Bristol Zoo has a lemur walkthrough as well but here the lemurs seem a bit closer. It looks really good.”
Terry and Chris Hodges, their granddaughter Ella-Jayne, five, and her friend Ella, seven, watched excitedly as the lemurs enjoyed a lunch of fresh carrots and other vegetables, grown on the grounds.
“It’s wonderful,” said Terry. “It’s very close to the animals. It looks natural and there’s a lot of space to walk around.”
An unusual draw for many of the little ones and completing their sensory exploration across the conservation park is a barefoot path.
Boxes filled with sand, melted rubber, pebbles, slate are peppered along a trail for visitors's enjoyment.
To finish off and “rinse” the remnants of sand and sawdust, the little explorers and their parents are invited to plunge their feet in a mud bath.
As the winter months approach, Wild Place will focus on educating children about its conservation mission and the various species at risk of extinction it aims to safeguard.
As well as the Madagascan classroom, further education huts will be scattered around the park aimed at school groups and their teachers.
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