Noah's Ark zoo farm
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Recycle Christmas trees at zoo farm
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm has been using recycled Christmas trees for animal enrichment for their animals for many years.
However, in 2020 after a case of mistaken identity with a zoo with a similar name in the US, the campaign took off beyond all expectations.
Last year, the zoo worked alongside North Somerset Council to recycle thousands of Christmas trees.
Many of the trees were used for animal enrichment including African elephants, white rhinos, meerkats and lions.
The remainder of the trees were chipped by Glendale, North Somerset Council grounds team.
The woodchip has many uses around the zoo, in both animal enclosures and in the gardens.
The woodchips are used in the Andean Adventures exhibit, providing different scents and enrichment for resident spectacled Bbears, Madidi, Rasu, Tuichi and Beni.
While the elephants, not only consume whole trees, they also enjoy searching their way through piles of chippings for buried treats.
The meerkats love digging in the sand and for a seasonal change, the keepers bury their food under the mulch, this simulates hunting in the wild and is a key part of their enrichment.
Zoo managing director Larry Bush said: “We really love the Christmas tree recycling program and so do all our animals.
"By joining forces with North Somerset Council, it enabled us to chip the remaining trees efficiently to use around the zoo grounds.
"We hope to build on this popular scheme and to continue our partnership with North Somerset.”
The zoo and North Somerset Council have confirmed that they are joining forces again in January 2023 with the aim of growing the Christmas tree recycling programme into the biggest year yet.
Residents in North Somerset are invited to drop off their Christmas trees at the zoo’s Christmas tree recycling point, located in their carpark, from Monday to Saturday, January 2-22, 2023.
New Brizzle-phant at Noah’s Ark
A specially commissioned, hand-painted elephant sculpture known as Brizzle-phant was unveiled at the launch of the Elephant Parade at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.
The new art sculpture joined 25 other life-sized baby elephant sculptures and was unveiled by the zoo’s MD Larry Bush and Just Childcare sponsor Michelle Ioannou.
Flying Start nursery manager Michelle said: “We had a lovely evening at the Elephant Parade launch.
“Unveiling Brizzle-phant was brilliant.
“It is a pleasure to be part of such a wonderful event and addition to the zoo, that children and families can enjoy and will support such amazing conservation causes.
“I can’t wait for our nursery’s children to see Brizzle-phant and take part in the elephant trail.”
Brizzle-phant was inspired by the combination of the vibrant landscapes of Bristol and North Somerset.
The Bristol side of the design includes the iconic colourful houses, famous hot air balloons, the Matthew, and Clifton Suspension Bridge.
The North Somerset side of the design includes part of Bristol’s Suspension Bridge, Tyntesfield House, Britain’s longest hedge maze at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm and, of course, lots of wildlife and luscious countryside.
The Brizzle-phant design even includes a giant smiley face in the sky commemorating the challenges that we have all faced and overcome over the past two years.
The smiley faces were drawn in the sky above Bristol by pilot Richard Goodwin, bringing joy to thousands during the height of the pandemic and the strict covid restrictions in June 2020.
Larry said: “It’s such a privilege to host the only Elephant Parade in the UK this year.
“Noah’s Ark joins the likes of London, Luxembourg and Dubai as hosts with other parades this year taking place in Las Vagas and the Netherlands.
“We hope Elephant Parade will put Wraxall on the map.”
Each of the remaining 25 sculptures have been chosen to represent the zoo’s values and conservation aims.
From designs about reducing plastic waste ‘Nature will overcome’, to an elephant called ‘United Hands’, recognising the importance of communities working together; the trail aims to explore messages of conservation, acceptance, and inclusion.
In addition to the trail, supporting Elephant Conservation through Elephant Parade, local businesses have sponsored many of the elephants throughout the trail raising more than £10,000 for conservation charities.
These funds will be donated to conservation charities supported by the zoo including Spectacled Bear Conservation and The World Land Trust.
Noah’s Ark marketing manager Clare Wesener said: “We want to thank all the sponsors for getting involved in this event and raising such an incredible amount of money for our conservation charities.
“The money raised will go directly to support conservation work to protect animals and their habitats.
“Our aim as a zoo is to conserve and protect amazing animal species for future generations while educating our visitors on ways, we can all help to protect our planet and safeguard animal habitats.”
Nailsea Rainbows, Brownies and Guides were among the winners of the conservation competition which is currently on display in the Elephant House at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.
Elephant Parade was started by father and son Marc and Mike Spits who were moved by the plight of an Asian elephant called Mosha they met in Thailand who had survived standing on a land mine, but lost her right leg.
Mosha was made a special prosthetic leg which has made daily life much easier for her.
African elephants explore Wraxall willow plantation
Two bull elephants at Noah’s Ark have been making tracks in a new willow plantation which is part of their huge enclosure at the zoo farm near Nailsea.
African elephants Shaka and Janu ventured this month into the forest area of Elephant Eden.
The inclusion of a 5,000sqm plantation within an elephant enclosure is the first of its kind in the UK.
It is full of willow, aspen, poplar trees and long grass.
Elephants eat and graze for up to 16 hours a day.
It is hoped the new area will encourage natural browsing behaviours for both Shaka who weighs 4,500Kg and Janu who weighs in at 4,100Kg.
Their journey into the unfamiliar territory was captured on film by experienced wildlife photographer and drone operator Guillermo Armero with the help of elephant-proof equipment.
Noah’s Ark elephant section leader Tom Lindley said: “We were extremely pleased with how the elephants reacted to the new habitat.”
“Janu, the younger bull was eager to explore the new area moving quickly to the tree line and investigating.
“Shaka was initially content to eat the long grass to amble through the new area until he pushed through into the plantation.
“Janu joined him later and the pair explored for several hours.”
Elephant Eden is the largest habitat for elephants in the UK and
northern Europe with 20 acres of complex habitat including pool and multiple sand yards.
Early this year, the zoo installed an outside field shelter complete with hanging barrel feeders which simulate natural browsing positions and helps to maintain healthy muscles in their trunks, necks and shoulders.
Elephant Eden opened in February 2014.
It is uniquely a bachelor elephant facility, providing a key supporting role in serving wider conservation efforts as part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) for African elephants.
A-MAZE-ING: In late June the team at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm will start the massive task of trimming The Great Bristol Wildlife Maze which contains more than 13,000 lush and green beech trees. The cut leaves will be preserved as silage for the winter months to provide food for the animals
JUMBO NEWS: Visit Noah's Ark Zoo Farm at Wraxall this summer to see the Elephant Parade. From Friday to Wednesday, July 1-August 31, the zoo will be hosting a herd of 26 hand-painted elephant sculptures led by Zebra Beats a rainbow zebra stripes animal. Each sculpture has been created by local and international artists to raise awareness of the need for global elephant conservation. The trail is included in the zoo admission and open 10.30am-5pm daily. Noah's Ark has a special late entry from 3pm every day. It costs £10 and allows plenty of time to play in the indoor areas or enjoy a leisurely stroll around the zoo
GREAT GRIZZLY OUTDOORS: The four-month-old Spectacled bear cubs at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm have been pictured exploring their outside habitat under the watchful eye of mum Madidi. The ‘nursery’ has been made bigger for the twins with lots of space to explore, climb and grow. May half term has a bear-theme to include talks, interactive storytelling and exclusive bear footage on a new cub cam. The zoo’s caterers will be making teddy bear picnic-themed goodies for people to enjoy on their visits. The twins have yet to be named and the keepers are looking for some inspiration for the boy and girl cubs maybe with a South American connection or reference to Paddington. What do you think? Comment on our Nailsea People Facebook page UPDATE: Finally baby bears named Tuichi (after river in the Madidi National Park in the north of Bolivia) and Beni (another river in the Bolivian national park)
Vet checks twins progress
The UK’s second ever Andean twin bear cubs passed with flying colours their first health check by the Noah's Ark Zoo Farm vet.
The Paddington Bear lookalike cubs, now three months old, have spent the past few months in the secluded cubbing den with their mother, Madidi.
The specially constructed den is fitted with infrared CCTV and microphones and until now, this is how the keepers were monitoring the progress of the cubs and Madidi.
In the early days after the birth, Madidi rarely left the cubs, only for short periods of time to feed.
Despite female adult bears weighing around 80kg, their offspring are only approximately 300 grams and are born blind.
The keepers have observed Madidi closely and noticed her growing confidence in leaving the cubs for longer periods of time.
The timing of the vet check needed to occur while mum was not in the cubbing den and cubs were not able to follow.
The entire vet check was done as quickly as possible to minimise stress to Madidi.
Both cubs received a visual check-over, were microchipped, weighed and the vet team were able to identify the gender of each of the cubs.
These first checks revealed that Madidi has a boy and a girl!
The male cub weighed in at 5.5kg and the female cub at 5Kg.
Male bears grow up to 30 percent larger than the females.
Measuring up to 6ft in height and approximately 150kg in weight.
These images are the first colour photos taken outside the dark cubbing den and show their distinctive facial markings that give the bears the name ‘Spectacled bears’.
They are also famously the inspiration behind Paddington Bear from 'darkest Peru'.
Lead keeper Jayne said: “It is wonderful to watch the development of the cubs.
"They have grown so much and it’s really interesting to see the differences in the personalities with the female cub being much more vocal and
inquisitive than her brother.”
They were born in January this year to five-year-old Madidi originally from Chester Zoo and Rasu originally from Zurich Zoo.
They were originally matched up in 2019 as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP).
With only isolated populations of spectacled bears left in the wild, they are vulnerable to extinction.
The birth of these twin bear cubs is a significant achievement of the EEP and Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm helping to preserve these amazing species for future generations.
Spectacled bears originate from South America, with males and females coming together to mate between April-June and spend the rest of the time apart.
There is typically no paternal involvement in the rearing of cubs.
There are fewer than 10,000 in the wild.
Rarity at Wraxall zoo
Noah's Ark is now fully accredited by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.
Following a formal application and inspection the Wraxall zoo and farm was told it had 'passed with flying colors'.
The accreditation process includes assessment of the animal welfare and its education programme in place.
Noah's Ark has new RBST signage to explain to visitors what they are doing.
Noah’s Ark curator Chris Wilkinson said: "I am delighted we have been awarded RBST accreditation.
"This has been a project close to my heart for a long time and we have all been working hard to create a strong programme.
"It is a great endorsement to receive this accreditation and we are looking forward to continuing to work with the RBST in conserving these rare native breeds and their natural environment, both of which are part of the UK’s national identity and heritage.”
Noah’s Ark, which was originally a dairy farm before its transformation to a farm park in 1999, is proud to home some of the UK’s rarest breeds including Suffolk Punch horses, Whitefaced Woodland sheep, Tamworth pigs and Brecon Buff geese, all of which are priority breeds on the RBST.
The RBST is a national charity working on the survival of the UK’s rarest
breeds of farm animals and equines.
They aim to reverse the decline in native livestock breeds by 2028 by demonstrating the economic, social and environmental relevance of native breeds.
Noah’s Ark is open seven days a week, 10.30am-5pm between February and November.
Ticket prices are seasonal and currently day tickets £20.85 for adults and £16.75 for children.
The Good News from Noah's Ark
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm won silver for Large Visitor Attraction at the 2022 South West Tourism Awards.
The presentation was at Sandy Park Stadium, Exeter, on Thursday, April 7, celebrating the best tourism and hospitality businesses in the south west of England.
The special awards ceremony was the first ‘in person’ celebration in two years.
It was an extremely competitive year with 476 entries.
The gold went to Minack Theatre an open-air theatre, constructed above a gully with a rocky granite outcrop jutting into the sea at Porthcurno, four miles from Land's End.
Noah’s Ark shared silver with Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, Dorset and the Dorset Museum took bronze.
Visitor experience and events coordinator Rhian Gunstone said: “These awards give us a real opportunity to receive feedback from an independent panel of judges and help us to improve the visitor experience year on year.
“We are extremely proud that this award recognises all the improvements we are continuing to make.
“It is fantastic recognition of our team’s hard work and dedication throughout the pandemic.”
This award follows on from the Bristol Bath and Somerset Awards in February where the zoo was presented via Zoom with the gold for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year.
As well the Winner of Winners Award and a silver for education co-ordinator, Paula Tackle as an Unsung Hero.
Visitor operations manager David Bennett said: “This is awesome, yet another award and more recognition for our continued efforts.
“I am so proud to be part of this team.”
And winning awards isn't the only notable event of late - the Wwraxall zoo farm has a new ticket office and elephoant Shaka's four year anniversary of arriving in North Somerset was markets with a banner and plenty of carrots.
PHOTO: Nick Williams at awards
BELLA IS BACK: One of Noah’s Ark owls was missing after being spooked at the Wraxall zoo farm it went flyabout. We are happy to share the owl is back and none the worse for its adventure taking in the airborne sights of North Somerset during its escapade. Bella was found on a Failand farm. Thanks go to everyone who cared which was hundreds on the Nailsea People Facebook page. A zoo farm spokesman said: “We hope to see Bella back within our birds of prey display when she is ready.”
Tourism award for Unsung Hero
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm has been shortlisted for prestigious tourism award and nominated for an Unsung Hero award for work during the pandemic.
The award is for Large Visitor Attraction of the year in the Bristol, Bath and Somerset Tourism Awards.
It’s a highly competitive award that the zoo won a silver award for in 2021. Celebrating attractions that provide memorable visitor experiences and demonstrate excellence across every aspect of the business.
Managing director Larry Bush said: “We are delighted to be short-listed for these awards.
"It’s an honour to be a finalist alongside some fabulous tourist destinations.
“It’s wonderful recognition for our dedicated team who have done such an outstanding job during another challenging year to welcome visitors to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm and to ensure they have a safe, happy and inspiring day out.”
In addition the zoo education coordinator, Paula Takle, has also been nominated for the Unsung Hero award.
The award recognises an individual working in any aspect of a tourism business who excels in their role and deserves to be applauded for their work and commitment to the industry.
Those who continually go above and beyond.
During Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, Paula found ways to engage the community including creating new and engaging educational activities for school children.
She timetabled virtual workshops involving videos of big zoo animals, activity booklets, quizzes, and games they could play at home. And Paula encouraged young people to write to the zoo replying individually to support their literacy skills.
She also set up virtual online zoo workshops bringing the zoo into individual homes and schools.
These workshops have worked so well that the team have even accommodated an international class from Indonesia.
Al Azhar 30 Islamic Primary School were very excited to learn more about Noah’s Ark animals during their own national Covid-19 lockdown.
Paula said: “I’m shocked but very happy to have been shortlisted for this award.
"My aim during the pandemic was to continue to engage our community and provide educational and interactive experiences, during a time when other activities were being cancelled.
"Creating positive memories during an unsettling time was very important.”
On Thursday, February 17, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm will learn whether it has won a gold, silver or bronze or award.
Big zoo animals and staff alike at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm have been delighted by the huge number of donated Christmas trees and there’s still time to donate your tree.
It’s estimated more than 1,000 Christmas trees have been donated so far following the Wraxall zoo’s now annual call to recycle trees. Groundskeepers predict the zoo is on route to receive approximately the same number if not higher, for use at the zoo.
Staff at the zoo planted a Christmas tree forest for the resident African elephants. 16-year-old Janu got to explore the trees but many of them didn’t last long against the approximately 4-ton animal.
A pyramid of tree chippings was also left for the rhinos, Rumba and Rumbull, pictured, who absolutely love the smell of different wood and took great delight in ascending to the top of the pile and sweeping their horns through it.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm managing director Larry Bush said: "It is an ever-growing mountain of trees that we receive here, and we’re so thankful to our local communities and guests to help the zoo encourage reducing waste and turn something bought temporarily for Christmas into a wide-reaching benefit for the year ahead.”
In addition to trees in enclosures, North Somerset Council street cleansing and grounds contractor Glendale have helped the zoo farm, turning donated trees so far into more than six trailer loads of chipping mulch that provides substrate for the bottom of animal enclosures and contributes to plant bedding across the 100-acre site.Mike Solomon is the Independent North Somerset ward councillor for Hutton and Locking.
He said: "North Somerset Council is very pleased to be supporting the
Christmas tree scheme once again this year.
"It’s a great way to support local communities and charities, whilst following a sustainable approach.
“Instead of just becoming another waste item the trees are repurposed and are used again as a valuable resource.
"This is all done locally which helps cut down on transportation and carbon emissions and supports our commitment to the climate emergency.”
Recycling your Christmas trees ends on Sunday, January 23 and children going half price ends on Monday, January 31. The zoo is open from 10.30am-4pm.
Noah’s Ark is again leading the way with recycling after the Christmas holidays.
Discarded festive trees, Christmas cards and the summer season's beech trees from the maze can all be put to good use.
Supported by North Somerset Council groundwork team the items will be turned in bedding mulch and silage.
It is all part of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm’s Green Zoo initiative to help with a sustainable future.
Elephants and rhinos have previously enjoyed exploring a set up planted forest and lions have picked their way through trees for their dinner after keepers sprayed perfume on the trees.
Spectacled bears, Rasu and Madidi have also recently enjoyed inspecting trees to find honey between branches.
However, the wider benefit for the zoo is the predicted 10 tons approximately of chippings that come from the trees.
This goes into a range of animal enclosures, from tapirs, coati, spectacled bears and even with the elephants.
Earlier in the year, 5,500 trees were planted in and around the zoo bringing a total of over 45,000 trees planted during two decades across the 200-acre zoo and surrounding farmland, providing a lasting legacy for the environment.
Grounds manager Michael Bradly said: “It’s a phenomenal feat every year now receiving thousands of trees, but it feels great to know that these trees have a huge benefit for our zoo animals.”
Noah’s Ark, like many other zoos has enjoyed giving festive enrichment for many years.
However, it was in 2020 that after a case of mistaken identity with an American zoo with a similar name, that the campaign now receives thousands of trees.
Michael added: “It started off as a couple of trees dropped at our doorstep, then we soon had more 1,000 Christmas trees donated in 2019 and more than 1,500 after Christmas last year.”