Pretty Little Deer & Snuggly Otters
So today me and Matt ventured to somewhere new... well, it was new to him, but a place I've been before many times as a kid!! We put our woolliest jumpers on, packed up my very autumnal, tartan rucksack (which I'd been dying to use again, after waiting all spring!!) with a picnic and drove to Wildwood, of Herne Bay in Kent. Wildwood is a British wild park and conservation charity, set in forty acres of stunning, natural and ancient woodland. Like other conservation parks, Wildwood sets out to home the woodland wildlife that commonly suffer from traumas like habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, disease and persecution.
All the enclosures were more than spacious and very well kept, completely in keeping with each of the species' natural environments. It definitely doesn't feel like you're walking around a zoo there, but an actual living and breathing forest. I feel there's nothing for show there - for instance, there were numerous enclosures being constructed or improved even further, and animals weren't in the public eye if they weren't fit to be - today a new pair of endangered birds were deliberately set back from the public track due to their shyness. The staff seem incredibly hands-on and in the job for their love for and best interest of the animals. In a nutshell, there's plenty to see, including badgers, beavers, otters, these super-cute, weasel-like fluffy mammals called pine martens, elk, deer, wild horses, hedgehogs, owls, reindeer (which obviously got me worked up with Christmas excitement!! They were called Holly and Ivy) red foxes and wolves. The wolves were a highlight for me as you see them so rarely. The ones at Wildwood were born to a wolf pack but had to be rescued by humans when their den became flooded. They were then hand-reared and brought to the park so have had a lot of contact with people. They did seem interested in us as we went by their enclosure, and their waggy tails did really remind me of my own pup!
Our other favourite part of our day was seeing these two otters curled up together in their underground house. The condition of the otter as a species is that they are endangered, however their populations are fortunately recovering. Otters actually almost reached extinction from absorbing a poisonous weed killer named DDT, from the animals they ate. I'm thankful that they are increasing in number again even if slowly, as they are such an intriguing, charming little mammal. I told my boyfriend this as we were looking at them: that when I was younger and had my traditonal girl's doll's house, I had beautiful pretend otters inhabiting it instead of dolls! So my infatuation clearly stemmed from a young age! Sorry, a bit of childhood reminiscing here, but the pretend otters were so cute; they were fuzzy and so soft just like these real ones look!
Although I don't necessarily agree with cages; like I said before, the park overall is so peaceful and pure and you have to think that these species would be utterly extinct if it wasn't for the effort such conservation workers put in. Our ticket entry price reflected a 10% voluntary donation and even though that's not much, I feel happy that we were able to add to maintaining the lovely lives of all the animals there today! I've been thinking about adopting an animal for a while now. I know a lot of people take the view that one sponsorship won't do that much good but my outlook is that it's absolutely better than sitting helplessly and putting up with the regular ill treatment of animals all over the world. I've previously been looking into adopting an elephant or a tiger with the WWF and I'm seriously considering it, though seeing the variety of innocent and characterful mammals and birds today has made that decision a bit more difficult. I think I just need to do some research and make a choice!
On a lighter note I think the weather is finally making its mind up and turning brrrrrr-cold. My woolliest jumper didn't turn out quite thick enough - the perfect excuse for a caramel hot chocolate though.