We’re passionate about wildlife and conservation at New Forest Wildlife Park and we want to encourage our visitors to learn more about conservation too.
Many of our animals, such as the giant otter, are on the IUCN endangered species Red List and we’re doing our best to help breed and conserve them for the future.
We were the first park in the UK to send a captive-bred giant otter to an international breeding programme abroad. Katuma, a young giant otter born at our sister park the Chestnut Centre in Derbyshire, was sent to Emperor Valley Zoo in Port of Spain, Trinidad in 2013 to meet his specially chosen mate, Suzie. Suzie and Katuma are getting along well and it’s hoped the pair will soon breed.
At New Forest Wildlife Park we work closely with all the regulatory authorities to make sure our animals receive the best care. Some of our animals, such as our European bison, may also be included in international captive breeding programmes in the future. These programmes are strictly controlled to ensure good breeding stocks are available for species under threat.
Other conservation projects include:
- Rehabilitation of injured and orphaned native species - otters, owls, and deer Scottish wildcat captive breeding programme
- Harvest mouse captive breeding programme
- Pine marten captive breeding programme and studbook management European polecat captive breeding programme
- Water vole captive breeding programme
- Supporting Diane McTurk’s Giant Otter rehabilitation programme at Karanambu Ranch, Rupununi, Guyana
- European bison captive breeding programme
- Eurasian otter captive breeding programme
- Managing a European studbook for the Asian short-clawed otter and pine marten
- Donations to Nick Marx in Cambodia to help with his Wildlife Rescue Alliance and work with endangered hairy nosed otter
Behind the scenes we also work closely with the RSPCA, vets, the police and other organisations to help rescue injured and abandoned wild animals and bring them back to good health.
We have extensive expertise in working with Eurasian otters and so much of our rescue work involves orphaned and abandoned otter cubs that have been separated from their parents due to swollen rivers, accidents or other events.
In 2012-13 we helped rescue seven cubs within one three-week period alone due to heavy winter rainfall. The cubs stay with us at New Forest Wildlife Park until they are 15 to 18 months old, and are kept away from human contact as much as possible so they can hopefully be returned to the wild.
This work is not subsidised and costs us around £3000 in food and care for each animal. So by visiting our three wildlife parks, our supporters are helping us to carry out this vital conservation and rescue work.
We can only take in rescued otters, owls, birds of prey and deer, since we have the knowledge and expertise to deal with these species. Other species should be taken to the RSPCA or other specialist centres.