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Critically Endangered Monkey Born at Drusillas Park

7 Nov

The baby boom continues as a critically endangered monkey is  born at Drusillas as part of the European breeding programme. The Sulawesi black crested macaque was delivered on Tuesday 25th October and staff are delighted with the new arrival.

Black crested macaques are native to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi where they are now regarded as critically endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). In the last 40 years it is estimated that the population has been reduced by more than 80% due to habitat loss and hunting pressure and they now face the very real threat of extinction in the wild.

These large impressive monkeys have just one baby at a time, born with a pink face which darkens with age. So far the baby bundle, thought to be male, is thriving alongside parents Kendari and Moteck. He will remain very dependent for the next four to five months, clinging to his mother who will nurse him for at least a year.

Kendari and Moteck were introduced at Drusillas in 2010, after being re-homed respectively from Chester Zoo and Monkey Park in Israel. The new arrival is the couple’s first baby together and hopefully will be one of many more to come.

Breeding programmes such as the one at Drusillas Park operate throughout the zoo community, in conjunction with the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. By cooperating in this way, animal collections hope to safeguard the existence of many animal species in order to secure their future survival.

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “It is wonderful to see the new addition to our macaque family. He is showing a lot of interest in his surroundings and being doted on by his cousin Kamala who was born at Drusillas in 2010. We are expecting a lot of monkeying around from these two over the coming months.”

Baby Monkey Boom at Drusillas Park

1 Nov

Drusillas is currently in the midst of a baby boom with a multitude of mini monkeys popping up around the Park. Amongst the latest arrivals are two emperor tamarins, two cotton-topped tamarins, three red-handed tamarins and two silvery marmosets.

The monkey madness started when Emperor tamarin, Lucy gave birth to twins.  This species takes its name from the 19th Century Emperor, Wilhelm II of Germany, who they are said to resemble on account of their distinctive moustaches. The fan-tash-stic pair are becoming more independent everyday and can now be seen playing with their older siblings.

Two silvery marmosets were next to make an appearance. The pearl coloured pair were born on 28th August and are thriving under the watchful guidance of proud parents Captain Jack and Hester. Silvery marmosets are native to the forests of Central andSouth Americaand usually give birth to twins every five to six months.

Then it was the turn of the red-handed tamarins, who delivered triplets.Keepers made the happy discovery on 28th September and all the babies are doing well and prospering. This species usually have two babies at a time which are generally carried around by the father; to have three is rare.

Finally two critically endangered cotton-topped tamarins arrived. The tiny bundles were born on 14th October and are doing well with the help of Dad, John and Mum, Georgie. Cotton topped tamarins are native to the humid tropical forests of Columbia, where there has been a severe reduction in the population mainly due to the destruction of their habitat. Like many of the animals at Drusillas, the group is part of a European breeding programme.

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “We are always excited by new arrivals. It is brilliant to have so many babies born within our breeding programmes and they are proving very popular with the public too. Fingers crossed, we are hoping for a few more happy events in the near future.

Spider Populations Soar

4 Oct

Drusillas Park’s spider expert, Angela Hale has been extremely busy over the last few weeks dealing with enquiries from the public as a result of the increased spider populations this year. It would appear that a warm spring has resulted in an abundance of these eight-legged invaders, leaving little to put the achnophobics mind at rest.

Angela commented: “People are likely to notice more spiders this year as a result of the warmer springtime. This coincided with the hatching of spiderlings leading to a higher survival rate. Similarly these temperate conditions have also meant that there are more insects around, which in turn has provided a wealth of food for spiders.”

Known as ‘Tarangela’ at the zoo, Angela knows almost all there is to know about these curious creatures and keeps a collection of over 150 different arachnids at home in her spare bedroom. She is also the secretary of the British Tarantula Society.

Many of the enquiries Angela has received have been from concerned members of the public who have discovered a larger than normal arachnid at home or in their garden, which they believe to be a foreign species. However, Angela claims these are much more likely to be the fertile females:

“At this time of year many female spiders are pregnant. Their bodies are swollen with eggs making them larger and a little more clumsy than usual. They are not bigger this year, nor are they an exotic breed; they are simply more visible to us at the present time.”

“Our native spiders pose no threat to us. Although most spiders are venomous they will generally only use this to catch their prey. They are unlikely to bite a human, except as a last resort and even then they would have difficulty breaking through our skin.”

“Spiders are essential to our ecosystem; without them we would be inundated with insects. Other species, such as the wren, also rely on them for food. They are our friends, not our enemies.

Chestnut Tree House Visits Sussex Zoo

27 Sep

A group of young people from Chestnut Tree House have enjoyed a complimentary day out at award-winning Drusillas Park. The visit took place on Saturday as part of the charity’s Fun and Friendship Youth Group outings.

Chestnut Tree House is the only hospice for children in Sussex and Drusillas Park’s Charity of the Year. Families are never charged for their care and the charity receives little government funding, so relies almost entirely on the help and support of the community to raise the £2.5 million required to provide its services.

During their visit, the group encountered a host of furry and feathered creatures along the zoo route including the resident meerkats, penguins and lemurs. They also enjoyed some close animal encounters in the new walk through aviary, Lory Landing.

Activity and Buddy Co-ordinator, Trisha Cullingford commented: “Our young people have varied disabilities and complex needs and the sight, sound and smell experience of Drusillas was an excellent activity for them.”

“We spent time looking and interacting with the animals and some of our young people went on the train. A couple fed the parrots and one said ‘that was the best thing ever’. Another member of our group sat for ages captivated by a lemur eating and feeding.”

“We were looked after very well, nothing was too much trouble for the staff; they were really friendly and helpful.”

New Zoo Babies!

20 Sep

Two capybara babies have been born at Drusillas Park. This is the first time the species has been bred at the zoo and staff are delighted with the new arrivals.

Capybara are the largest rodents in the world. In the wild they are only found in South America, where they live in groups near water.

Drusillas Park holds the UK Register for capybara. This means that Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate assists with co-ordinating the movement of the species for the purpose of breeding. She also offers advice to other zoos on how these animals should be kept.

The latest arrivals were born at Drusillas on Tuesday 23rd August and are thriving under the guidance of proud parents, Hector and Tullula.

The cappy-couple were introduced at Drusillas in 2010 as part of the breeding programme; Tullula came from Marwell Wildlife in November 2005 followed by Hector from Reaseheath College last October.

Capybara live in pairs, family groups or in larger mixed herds.  They can have up to eight young at a time.

The delightful new duo have been exploring their environment and are already eating vegetables and browse, although they are still being nursed by their mother. The babies were born covered in fur and could run, swim and dive within hours of birth however, this is not without its dangers!

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “I was passing the capybara enclosure recently when I noticed that one of the babies was trapped in the pond and unable to get out. However, Hector quickly came to the rescue, swimming over to the edge of the water and bridging the gap so the baby could climb up him onto land – it was very sweet to watch.”

Black Day for Zoo Conservation

2 Sep

Drusillas are appealing for information after thieves broke into a locked conservation cabinet and stole a rare black rhino horn.

Drusillas Park had the artefact on display as part of a CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) education exhibit, secured within the confines of the inner zoo.

Forcing the lock on the unit, the thieves targeted the glass case during normal operating hours on Wednesday 31st August. By passing all other items, they escaped with the rhino horn sometime between 4.15  and 4.30pm.

Shortly after, staff saw two men running away from the scene and acting suspiciously. They were described as Caucasian and in their late teens to early twenties. One was wearing a baseball cap and sportswear, while the other had a horizontal blue and white striped top with jeans. They were last seen heading on foot in the direction of Alfriston village.

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “I am extremely upset that the rhino horn has been stolen. The horn itself is off-white and triangular shaped, measuring approximately 15cm in diameter.”

“Artefacts play an important role in education at Drusillas; they are used to explain to our visitors about the illegal trade in animal products and spread a vital conservation message. To have such a precious item stolen for personal gain beggars belief.”

The robbery is the latest in a chain of similar attacks on collections and museums throughout Europe. Sadly the demand for rhino horn on the black market is high, fuelling a value which is currently greater than gold. 

Zoo Director, Laurence Smith commented: “It can be no coincidence that during a global spate of attacks our own black rhino horn has also been targeted.”

“Police are investigating the crime and we are currently looking through our CCTV footage. However if anyone has any information in connection with the incident or saw anything suspicious, please contact us as soon as possible on 01323 874100 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

 

Zoo Keepers Saddle Up for Charity Bike Ride

18 Aug

Three zoo keepers from Drusillas Park have raised nearly £1000 after completing a sponsored bike ride for Chestnut Tree House and the EAZA Ape Campaign.

Jodie Dryden, Claudia Caballero-Pope and Helena Faunch completed the 50 mile route on Sunday 14th August, starting from Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent before returning to the award-winning zoo in East Sussex.

All inexperienced riders, the energetic trio have trained hard over the past few months in order to rise to the challenge.  Wearing bespoke t-shirts they set off from Hythe at 9am, travelling west along the A259 through Rye, Hastings and Bexhill before meeting up with the A27 to Alfriston.

Claudia commented: “The journey started off really well with us getting lost on some country roads and having to ask a horse rider for directions within the first 10 miles!”

“There was lots of laughing and joking for 20 to 25 miles or so which soon died out as it got more challenging and we were getting tired. The wind was really strong along Rye and Hastings which also didn’t help. We ended on a high though with everyone from Drusillas waiting to wave us in as we arrived back 8 hours later.”

Jodie added: “The main thing that kept us going was knowing how much sponsorship money we had been pledged and how much the charities would benefit. We’d like to say thank you to everyone who sponsored us and made the day happen.”

The money will be split equally between the two chosen charities. Chestnut Tree House is Drusillas Park’s charity of the year and the only hospice for children in Sussex. Families are never charged for their care and the charity receives little government funding, so relies almost entirely on the help and support of the community.

The remaining half of the money will be donated to the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria to contribute to their Ape Campaign. This seeks to make a lasting difference to the survival of apes and their habitats in the wild. 

Janet Parsons, Head of Communications at Chestnut Tree House commented: “We are delighted to be Drusillas’ charity of the year.  We would like to say a huge thank you to the girls from everyone at Chestnut Tree House for supporting us in this way.”