Tag Archives: Things to do with Children.

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.”

Family Fun before the Kids Go Back to School

23 Aug

No summer is complete without a visit to Drusillas Park; the South East’s Visitor Attraction of the Year. With plenty still to see and do during the holidays, it’s well worth a visit before the kids go back to school.

Join in the excitement and snorts of laughter tomorrow 24th August as Peppa Pig makes her last appearance with her brother George. The Fat Controller himself will also be causing a locomotion when he alights at the Park on 25th August.

Plus there’s all the usual animal magic on offer. Drusillas offers an opportunity to get nose to nose with nature with hundreds of exotic animals from monkeys and crocodiles to penguins and meerkats. Get up close and personal to the lemurs in Lemurland or feed nectar to a friendly flock of rainbow lorikeets in the new parrot aviary, Lory Landing. 

However, animals are only half the fun. The state-of-the-art attraction, Go Wild! combines a multi-levelled labyrinth of adventure play and the interactive maze,Eden’s Eye, takes visitors on an adventure style quest. Indoors there is Amazon Adventure, a state-of-the-art soft play complex and the Thomas & Friends™ train offers unlimited rides all year round.

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.”

Rare Baby Lemur Born

18 Jul

A rare black lemur has been born at Drusillas. The young male has been called Tsito by zoo keepers and is making good progress under the watchful guidance of proud parents, Clementine and Lotfi.

Male black lemurs are all black with striking eyes, whilst females have a brown back, pale belly and whitish ear tufts.  They are native to the forest areas of northern Madagascar where they are considered a vulnerable species, mainly due to hunting and the destruction of the habitat in which they live.

Clementine arrived at the end of 2009 from Park Zoo inPortugal, followed closely by Lofti from Friguia Zoo inTunisia. The pair were brought together at Drusillas as part of the European Endangered Species Programme coordinated by EAZA (The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria).



Black lemurs give birth to one or two babies at a time and the youngsters are carried around by their mother for up to six months. Tsito is growing in confidence daily and has just started to come off Clementine’s back for short periods of time, exploring the trees and ropes at Drusillas. He has also begun eating small amounts of solid food, with his particular favourite being pear.

Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate commented: “We are so excited at the arrival of Tsito. He is a very cheeky little chap and can be seen playing with the ring-tailed lemurs and his Dad in Lemurland while Mum takes a break from her parenting duties.”

Drusillas Provides a Dragon for School’s Business Day

6 May

Drusillas Park’s Managing Director, Christine Smith has taken part in a Dragons Den style day for year 7 and 8 students from the region.

The aim of The Big Business Pitch was to give the students a taste of the business world, at the same time as stretching their abilities as much as possible.

In groups of five, the students were required to consider and develop a business idea before presenting it to their classroom teachers, who selected 8 finalists.

Christine was invited as one of five judges representing various successful businesses from around the region. Deputy Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and founder of the Air Miles and Nectar loyalty schemes, Sir Keith Mills was also part of the panel.

Along with the other judges, Christine was required to consider each of the finalists, based on a 3 minute business pitch. The winning students’ called their idea Homecare, which involved a 24 hour service providing stress-free access to a pool of recommended trades people.

Director, Christine Smith commented: “It was great to be involved in the day and a fantastic initiative by the school. The children had come up with some excellent ideas and we were all very impressed by the overall standard. In the end, the winning team just clinched it due to their professionalism and a very slick presentation.”

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.