The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, the charity that runs Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, is planning for a cautious and controlled 2017.
Executive Director Simon Tonge has outlined plans for the three zoological collections for the coming year: “The most important event of the year for us is likely to be the formal opening of Newquay Zoo’s Gems of the Jungle exhibit, our wonderful new south east Asian free-flying bird exhibit that tells people all about the plight of song birds in that region.
“At Living Coasts we are looking to create a new teaching space and – outdoors – to refurbish the Jetty area, where we hope to put in new decking and a new catering cabin. I imagine that going ahead this spring.”
Plans to develop the Savannah area of Paignton Zoo have been evolving over recent months. The first phase of work is now likely to start in autumn 2017. Simon Tonge: “It’s been delayed as much as anything by the economic and political uncertainty that’s come out of 2016. We have been discussing what we do in detail and have some exciting ideas. We are now costing everything. We have been building up financial reserves in the meantime.”
Other capital works at the three zoos will be modest, with new accommodation for gibbons and lemurs at Paignton Zoo and a new food outlet at Newquay Zoo. Money is also ear-marked for new boilers in the Paignton Zoo Ape Centre and a new ultrasound machine for the Zoo’s in-house vet team.
It is not only uncertainty in this country that concerns Simon. The Trust will be closely monitoring the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe, which once again threatens the conservation partnership with the Dambari Wildlife Trust.
The charity is planning for total visitor numbers similar to those seen this season, with 158,000 projected for Newquay Zoo (about the same as the year just gone), 129,000 at Living Coasts (lower than last year) and 448,000 at Paignton Zoo (also lower).
The charity’s vision is for “A world rich in wildlife and wild places”. It has four Strategic Aims: education and engagement of the public on the conservation of the natural world; in situ conservation of species and habitats; ex situ conservation of threatened species; and conservation advocacy: shaping behaviour-change for the benefit of biodiversity.
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