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Wildlife park: New arrivals every day
ZOO keepers are busier than ever at Burford’s Cotswold Wildlife Park with new arrivals coming every day.
Baby lemurs, storks, mongooses, meerkats and an endangered species of antelope, called the oryx, are just some of the animals that have been born over the past few weeks.
Park curator, Jamie Craig, said: “We always look forward to the spring as it starts to get busier for us here. So far, all the new animals have been all the things that we expected. It’s just a case of keeping on top of things and hoping that everything goes to plan.
“There are a few things that we are not sure about. There is a particular type of lemur, a bamboo lemur, which are very rare in the wild. Their first due date was April 26, based on our observations of their mating, but it could go on until June — we will just have to wait and see.”
With new babies coming into the park, there is a shift in the behaviour of the animals, and this is a time when Mr Craig and the rest of the staff at the park have to keep a close eye on the animals.
“If there is going to be any fighting between the animals, then it’s usually around this time of year,” said Mr Craig.
“Even though they are not in the wild, we do still lose youngsters, and it can be a difficult time as well.
“Sometimes the youngsters don’t do very well, and you make a decision on whether to hand-rear them or not.”
Hand-rearing can lead to human traits being imprinted on animals, and it then makes it harder for them to integrate back into the group.
When this happens, Mr Craig said they can become targets for the other animals, or, in the case of primates, it can make them more aggressive, because they have no fear of humans.
Mr Craig added: “There is a lot of work for us, but that is what you love when you do this job.”
But any visitor heading to the park hoping to see some baby lion cubs may be in for a disappointment.
“Our lion has got a low sperm count, though I don’t think he knows that. We are hopeful it will happen some time, but it will be down to luck and good timing on the part of the male.”
Mr Craig said that while the newborn animals were very cute and great fun for visitors to come and see, there was a more serious side to it.
“What we hope is that coming and seeing the young animals is a way of educating people about them, and this provides a way in for them.”
The Cotswold Wildlife Park and gardens are two miles south of Burford on the A361.
The park is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 10am, with last admissions at 3.30pm in winter, 4.30pm in summer.
For more information, visit cotswoldwildlifepark.co.uk