Kent wildlife park and conservation charity, Wildwood Trust, is celebrating a trio of award wins at the prestigious British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) awards this September. The British wildlife conservation charity, which has its flagship park near Canterbury, won big at the annual awards, a testament to its work rescuing and rehabilitating brown bears and its educational programme’s night tours. Wildwood Trust took home a trio of awards including:
– Silver in the category ‘Animal Husbandry, Care & Breeding’, for rehabilitating two rescued European Brown Bears through captive torpor, a natural environment and social integration
– Bronze in the category ‘Behaviour and Welfare’, for comparing the frequency of stereotypical behaviour in captive brown bears (Ursus Arctos Arctos)
– Bronze in the category ‘Education’, for the project ‘Night tours’, which offers a completely new perception of the animals and nature by experiencing the park at night time, with a guide
This has placed the wildlife park near Canterbury, ‘’Among those collections who have gone above and beyond in Animal Care and Breeding, Behaviour and Welfare and in Conservation and Education’’ (BIAZA). The awards for the charity’s work with Brown Bears are particularly significant given that it is recognized globally as a world leader in bear rescue and rehabilitation.
Wildwood first rescued two bears, Fluff and Scruff, from an abandoned canned hunting facility in Bulgaria in 2014, and more recently gave orphaned cubs, Mish and Lucy, a new home after they were found alone in a snowdrift in Albania. The Park’s 1.5 acre bear- woodland and facilities, built with the support of the local community, has been essential in the Trust’s work with Fluff and Scruff. Keepers have encouraged their natural behaviours, including going naturally into torpor (sleep through winter), playing together, foraging for their food and using natural resources in their daily lives, exactly as they would in the wild.
Baby bears to benefit
Only two weeks prior to receiving the awards Wildwood Trust welcomed Mish and Lucy, who will be staying at the Kent park until their forever home is ready at Wildwood’s sister site, Wildwood Escot in Devon. The bear team at Wildwood are using everything they’ve learned from Fluff and Scruff to ensure these young cubs have the healthiest and happiest life in their new home.. Mark Habben, Head of Living collections at Wildwood, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have won three fantastic awards in our industry, it’s a huge accolade that recognises years of hard work. The team has worked tirelessly to give our bears Fluff and Scruff stability, care and enrichment, after years of neglect and they have succeeded which these awards are testimony to, and to have our education programme awarded is really exciting, it’s brilliant to engage people with animals in a variety of ways as this inspires them further about the natural world and encourages them to protect it, which is what we want.”
A BIAZA spokesperson said:. “Staff at Wildwood have taken this excellent opportunity to learn and develop our community’s knowledge and understanding of torpor in bears. Their work will help inform the wider community, and supports efforts towards best possible standards of care for bears in zoos’’.