Tag Archives: Family Day Out in Sussex

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.”

Get Ready for Creepy Crawlies Day

9 Sep

Venture down to Drusillas Park on Sunday 25th September for Creepy Crawlies Day and meet some very unusual mini monsters. The Discovery Centre will be open between 11am and 4pm, swarming with weird insects, slimy molluscs and scary spiders.

Amongst the creatures will be scorpions with their powerful pincers, hissing cockroaches that make a terrifying hissing noise to scare off predators, giant millipedes and large fanged tarantulas.

Experts from the British Tarantula Society will be available to answer questions throughout the day, including Drusillas Park’s very own spider woman, Angela Hale. Known as Tarangela at the zoo, Angela knows all there is to know about these eight-legged creatures and will be on hand to help visitors understand them too.

Drusillas Park’s Managing Director, Laurence Smith commented: “Spiders are one of the most misunderstood creatures on the planet and this is a great chance for the public to come along and meet them face to face – who knows we may even cure a phobia!  We find that most children love creepy crawlies but it is often their parents we have to convince.”

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.”

Sydney & Sofia are Set for a Summer Romance

15 Aug

After months of searching, zoo keepers at Drusillas Park in East Sussex have finally found a mate for Linne’s two-toed sloth, Sofia. Sydney arrived from Paignton Zoo and has been settling in alongside his lady love ever since.

Sloths usually live on their own or in a small group. They have one baby at a time, which is delivered after a period of six months.

Sofia was born on 17th April 2009 at Amazon World Zoo Park on theIsle of  Wight.  She came to Drusillas in July 2010 with a view to starting her own family at the zoo. Cupid’s arrow finally landed this month when Sofia was introduced to eligible bachelor, Sydney. The pair have been getting on famously, hanging out with the Rodrigues fruit bats with whom they share an enclosure.  

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “We are really pleased with the new arrival. Sydney has had to make some big adjustments since arriving at Drusillas; he has met turacos and bats and he also has access to an outside area for the first time, which is rare in UK zoos with this species.”

In the wild Linne’s two-toed sloths are found in the tropical rainforests of northern South America, where they spend most of their time hanging upside down from trees by their four long limbs.

They are very slow moving creatures with a lower body temperature than other mammals, varying from 24 to 330C. They control this by moving in and out of the sun.

Hopefully Sofia and Sydney will continue to warm to each other too. So far the signs have been very encouraging and claws crossed, it will not be too long before there’s a tiny new addition to the sloth family at Drusillas Park.

Perfect Day Out for School

3 Aug

Over 70 nursery pupils from The Brook School in Maidenbower, Crawley have enjoyed a day out at Drusillas, after their play area was vandalised. The complimentary visit took place on at the end of July and was arranged by the award winning visitor attraction with the help of Heritage Travel, who provided free coach transportation for the day.

Drusillas Park’s Managing Director, Laurence Smith commented: “We were shocked when we saw the damage caused at the school in the local paper and wanted to arrange a treat for the children and a fun day out. We welcome a lot of school parties to the zoo each year and students from The Brook School have visited us on several occasions. Hopefully the trip will go some way to compensate for being deprived of their own playground whilst repair work was underway.”

The vandals are believed to have targeted the play area used by the youngest students at The Brook School late on Sunday 26th June, causing an estimated £500 worth of damage. Although nothing was stolen, the play area had to be closed for a week during the cleanup operation causing both upset and distress to the pupils aged 3, 4 and 5 years old.

As one of the foremost operators of group travel in South East England, Drusillas Park contacted Heritage Travel who were only too happy to help. Providing a 79 seat luxury coach from their fleet of over 40 vehicles, they agreed to transport the children to and from the zoo.

Andrew Grimes from Heritage Travel commented: “For over thirty years, Heritage has been providing coach hire for hundreds of East and West Sussex schools and the schools have in turn provided jobs for many drivers, mechanics and suppliers over the years. When we heard that the school had been so badly vandalised, especially in these days of government cutbacks to the public sector, it was the least we could do to put something back.”

“As a community based company we firmly believe that our relationship with schools and the society in which we operate is a reciprocal one and we do what we can as we feel we have a responsibility to not only all our school clients but the community as a whole.”

During the visit, the children encountered a host of furry and feathered creatures along the zoo route, including the resident meerkats, penguins and some close animal encounters in the new walk through rainbow lorikeet aviary, Lory Landing. There was also time for the children to explore the play areas and take a ride on the Thomas & Friends™ train, before returning back to school.

Reception Teacher, Gemma Clark commented: “This has been the most wonderful treat for the children and staff. You have reassured us that there are still kind people out there and shown the children that not everyone is mean. Thank you for this amazing day; we can’t wait to bring children in years to come.”

Snake Saturday and Spider Sunday

21 Jun

Venture down to Drusillas Park this weekend (25th and 26th June) and meet some of the extraordinary animals taking up residence in the Discovery Centre as part of Snake Saturday and Spider Sunday.

On Saturday 25th June, a range of snakes will be sliding their way to the zoo and experts will be available to give advice on these fangtastic creatures. If you find snakes charming or think your knowledge of boas is constricted, this is the ideal opportunity to find out more about them.

Or creep down to Drusillas on Sunday 26th June and discover some spectacular spiders. Experts from the British Tarantula Society will be available to answer questions throughout the day, including Drusillas Park’s very own spider woman, Angela Hale.

Known as Tarangela at the zoo, Angela knows all there is to know about these eight-legged creatures and will be on hand to help visitors understand these mini monsters.

A Right Royal Romance

27 Apr

As the nation counts down to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, two tiny tamarins from Drusillas Park’s animal kingdom also have good reason to rejoice, after their own royal romance produced a new heir.

Lucy and Tiny Tim are emperor tamarins. They were introduced at the zoo in 2005 and since then these mini monkeys have made a huge impression on each other, celebrating the arrival of their fourth baby on 3rd February.

These regal monkeys are a threatened species, native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. They take their 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-tic pair were brought together as part of a European breeding programme created to help ensure the survival of the species in the future.  Thankfully, Cupid’s arrow proved right on target and the couple hit it off straight away.

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “It is wonderful to see how settled together this lovely pair of tamarins are with their family. The baby is now becoming more independent and can often be seen playing with his older siblings. He is proving to be a very cheeky monkey.”

The latest addition to the tamarin empire is the jewel in the crown; a perfect furry-tail ending to a right royal romance.