Doncaster Wildlife Park has exciting plans to reopen, including new animals and a new reserve


New animals, a new reserve, a new purpose-built entrance and the first phase of a new visitor complex will surprise visitors when Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster reopens on Monday 12 April.

With the opening of the new entrance, visitors will see the preliminary phase of the Yorkshire Hive’s development take shape and in 2021 more attractions, restaurants and shops will open.

General Manager John Minion said: “We are delighted to have been given the green light to reopen the park. So much has changed from our new entry to our newcomers to the Atlantic Forest. We have been planning the expansion for several years now, so taking the first step to opening the new entrance and the first new reserve in the Atlantic Forest is incredible.

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A cone will join the animal park.

“This is only a small part of our plans for the next few years, so watch this space and as the restrictions are lifted over the next few months, we will open up more exciting new developments.

“We are really looking forward to being able to reopen all of our outdoor play areas and outdoor cafes and it will add an extra dimension to a day at the park.

“We are now well trained to implement Covid precautions and we are fortunate to be an outdoor attraction on a spacious site.

“Hopefully 2021 promises to be a good year for all Yorkshire tourism.”

Red-maned wolf, Chrysocyon brachyurus.

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A pair of newly arrived Lowland Tapirs, Maned Wolves and a pack of Bush Dogs will make their debut at the new Atlantic Forest Reserve, the first of the reserves to open in 2021 as part of the park’s expansion project. These three species are all found in the threatened habitat of the Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlantica) in South America. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation charity works with the conservation organization WildCare in Misiones, Argentina to help protect and create wildlife corridors for animals that live in the Atlantic Forest.

Staff are working hard to prepare the site and the reopened park will have many safety precautions including advance reservation only, restrictions on the number of visitors, controlled time slots for visits, clear markings and messages social distancing and increased cleaning protocols. The 175-acre park has over 5 km of trails and plenty of outdoor spaces for visitors to enjoy.

The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyus) is the most striking of the new arrivals. Evolved to live in tall grass savannas, long-legged maned wolves have thick red coats, distinctive black markings, and large erect ears. It is the largest canine in South America. Although it looks more like a long-legged fox than a wolf, genetic studies show that it is neither a fox nor a real wolf, but a separate species. Weighing up to 30 kg, they are endemic to Brazil, Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay. The new residents of YWP are Ibera, a two-year-old female from Nuremberg Zoo in Germany and Axenus, a four-year-old male from Paignton Zoo.

The new hive will continue to grow.

They are solitary animals in the wild, therefore do not live in packs and do not howl. Instead, they communicate through scent tagging and a loud call known as a roaring bark. They stamp their front foot on the ground to chase prey from the grass and will jump on their long legs to catch birds in flight. Although classified as carnivorous, they are omnivorous and in nature up to 40% of their diet can consist of fruit. The maned wolf is classified as near threatened because the population decreases and becomes fragmented as its habitat is reduced.

Matilda and Luna, the two female plains tapir (Tapirus terrestris) aged three and four respectively, are settling down well and are sure to become favorites with rangers and visitors alike. Tapirs use their movable and flexible muzzle to browse leaves and pick up fruit, but they are also great swimmers and use them as a snorkel. The thick, spiky hairs on the back of the neck protect this vulnerable area which is exactly where jaguars would target their attack. Weighing up to 225kg and up to 1.8m in length, they are not small animals and are closer to rhinos or horses than pigs.

The third species to arrive in the Atlantic Forest is the active and curious bushdog (Speothos venaticus). Tiny Tim, the new resident male, was joined very recently by three females. They live and hunt in small family packs. Weighing only 5-8 kg, in the wild, they live in lowland forests, humid savannah and riverine habitats and have developed partially webbed feet to help them swim better. Only the dominant pair will breed, and the rest of the pack is subordinate and will help raise and protect the young. They are carnivores and will hunt agouti, capybara and even larger prey such as rhea. They hunt during the day and hide in their dens at night away from jaguars. Their endangered habitat means they are now classified as near threatened.

“We’re excited with the way the new animals are settling in,” said Rick Newton, Director of Animals.

“It’s fascinating to have three very different species in the new reserve, and I’m sure visitors will be delighted to see them.

“The bush dogs are particularly active and curious, I’m sure they will become big favorites here.”

Another novelty for visitors is new leisure shopping with free entry.

This is a select mix of local independent stores and boutiques where visitors can browse for artisanal food and drink, delicious treats and confectionery, housewares, cards and accessories.

The wide product line continues with children’s clothing, stunning African art and wildlife photographs, and a new plant for the garden.

In these confusing and disturbing times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thank you to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter when subscribing or buying a newspaper. We are all fighting together. Liam Hoden, editor.

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