Reaseheath College animal experts are calling for the public not to buy exotic pets for Christmas unless they are absolutely sure they know how to care for them.
Spring has sprung in the Nantwich college’s lambing sheds with the arrival of the first newborns of the season. The lambing weekends have been a major draw to the college over the past 20 years, with many visitors returning each season to meet the lambs and hopefully experience a live birth. 500 expectant ewes are due to produce 1,000 lambs, including three sets of quads and 59 sets of triplets. The college’s agriculture students have been staying up through the night to make sure the lambs and their mothers get the best care.
The campus zoo is also open to the public. The zoo houses over 1,000 animals including meerkats, lemurs, tapirs, otters, companion animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, reptiles and amphibians. Families can get involved in handling and flying birds of prey, thanks to student members of Reaseheath’s Birds of Prey Society who are running special sessions with some of the college’s owls.
Reaseheath’s lambing and zoo event is on again next weekend, March 12 and 13 (10am – 4pm)
A family ticket for both attractions is £25.
Find out more at www.reaseheath.ac.uk/lambing
Watch a group of children who had the opportunity to see triplets being born at our Lambing event on Sunday:
A spiky newborn with attitude is making his first public appearance at Reaseheath College’s zoo in Nantwich over Easter.
The baby porcupine, known as a ‘porcupette’, was born in March to one of the college’s three female porcupines. The youngster was given its first health check last week by zookeepers, who found he was male and that, at 958 grams, he had more than doubled its birth weight. He is quickly becoming independent and showing his rather grumpy character!
The porcupette is on display in the zoo’s courtyard enclosure, along with his mother, grandmother and other family members.
Other newborn zoo animals include a pancake tortoise and a muntjac faun named Marius. A two year-old male Asian Small Clawed Otter called Wonga has also joined the collection from a visitor attraction in Devon. The newcomer is settling in well with Reaseheath’s female otter ‘Ying’ and can be seen in the otter enclosure.
Reaseheath’s animal collection also includes meerkats, spider monkeys, ring tailed lemurs, a serval cat, birds of prey and many reptiles, amphibians, fish and companion animals like rabbits.
As well as touring the enclosures and joining in educational activities, families can learn how to reduce their carbon footprint by joining the Pole to Pole campaign. The campaign has been adopted by leading zoos and aquariums in Europe and North America and aims to influence the energy consumption of visitors.
Additional activities over the holiday weekend include an Easter egg hunt. Zoo visitors also get a 10% reduction off plants and vegetables in Reaseheath’s Crop Shop.
Reaseheath Zoo is open to the public until Easter Monday, 21st April, 10am to 5pm (last entry 4pm)
Admission: £15 family (2 adults and 3 children); £5 adult;£4 Children/ concessions. Under 3s free
On the 3rd March, Cassandra Murray, Evaluation Coordinator from the Zoological Society of London came to visit the Reaseheath Animal Management Department to work with our second year FdSc Zoo Management students. Cassandra worked with students throughout the day focusing on the importance of visitor surveys and how they can influence decision making within zoos. The students took part in lectures and workshops and created their own visitor survey. They carried out the survey on campus looking into what our current staff and students think of our zoo and how they would like to see it develop. The students are hopefully going to be carrying on with their visitor surveys during the Easter and summer holidays, to find out what the general public think of the Reaseheath Zoo.
This research can then potentially be used to influence future decision making regarding the Reaseheath Zoo.
Visitor surveys are becoming common practice in zoos and help influence decision making in a variety of ways; from enclosure design to signage and the utilisation of funding to name just a few examples. Visitor surveys can provide us with a sound basis for monitoring performance and are useful for future marketing planning and development. This is a new proficiency that our degree students are enthusiastically running with, which is great news for the Reaseheath Zoo!
Lecturer in Animal Management
Budding scientists from Bury Church of England High School saw some of their lessons come to life during a behind-the-scenes visit to Reaseheath’s zoo.
Twelve pupils from Years 9 and 10 helped to feed ring tailed lemurs and meerkats and flew birds of prey during an action packed trip round our animal management department.
Pupil Lucy Tyrer, 15, won the chance to spend time with Reaseheath’s zoo keepers after becoming one of the top prizewinners at The Big Bang Fair in Liverpool, a north west event aimed at encouraging young scientists and engineers.
Her project, ‘The Perfect Cup of Tea’, was awarded top marks for enthusiasm and commitment to STEM (education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The category prize was sponsored by Reaseheath College.
Lucy chose to bring 11 fellow science enthusiasts on her day out. All the pupils have completed CREST (Creative Science and Technology) awards. Lucy, who wants to become a vet said: “This was a really good experience. All the colleges near us are in towns so being out in the country and meeting all the animals was amazing.”
Chemistry teacher Amy Jackson, who accompanied the group, said: “Our pupils, particularly girls, are become more and more interested in science. This was a great opportunity to come to Reaseheath and spend time outside doing practical activities. The facilities here are stunning. The whole group had a really good learning experience and loved every minute.”
Reaseheath College has won a national accolade for activities promoting responsible pet ownership during National Pet Month.
The Nantwich, Cheshire, college took the National Pet Month award for the best event in the educational category and was runner up for the best event overall. The activities, organised by Reaseheath’s animal management department, included a sponsored dog walk, rabbit enrichment workshops and educational displays. As well as informing the public and encouraging them to care for their pets, the events raised money for animal charities.
Animal Management Instructor and lead organiser Emma Hunt ran a ‘Go Walkies for Guide Dogs’ in Reaseheath’s grounds and farmland which raised £345 towards the training of guide dogs to support blind and partially sighted people. Each canine entrant enjoyed a tail wagging walk before receiving a doggy bag containing a commemorative dog tag and certificate. At the same time, pet owners were offered a micro chipping service by a qualified professional.
Reaseheath’s zoo was also open to the public, with Emma taking the opportunity to run rabbit enrichment workshops encouraging families to make toys for their pets from cardboard boxes and tubes. The activities raised £82 for the Rabbit Welfare Association and Fund.
Other colleagues organised educational displays about responsible pet ownership, particularly the drawbacks of keeping exotic animals, demonstrated how to make garden bird feeders and gave talks on pet care.
Handing over a certificate and educational book on dog breeds, Phil Sketchley, chair of the Trustees of National Pet Month, said: “We liked the balance between fun and education in Reaseheath’s events. They helped promote responsible pet ownership while fitting in with our 2013 theme of ‘companionship’. We cannot wait to hear about Reaseheath’s plans for next year, when National Pet Month will celebrate its 25th anniversary.”
Emma Hunt said: “We were delighted to get this award, particularly as it was the first time we have taken part in National Pet Month. It was a great opportunity to inform the public about pet care – a subject that we are all very passionate about.”
Reaseheath Herpetological and Entomological Society (RHES) gave talks about reptiles and invertebrates when our zoo opened to the public last Sunday as part of Lambing Weekend.
Student members gave the talks, aided by some of our resident animals including tailless whip scorpions, giant Asian mantis, a bull snake, a ridge tail monitor, violin mantis and a Savu Island python.
The RHES talks were full to capacity and visitors got the chance to meet some of our animals up close and learn some interested facts about them. The members talked about lifespan, natural history and behaviour and discussed the animals’ suitability as pets.
The group also carried out fundraising for the North Wales Reptile and Raptor Sanctuary, which we hope to visit in the future. The fundraising action included ‘Ozzie the owl’ visiting and greeting the public, the sale of cakes and sweets, and a raffle.
RHES is a student run society which meets up once a week and undertakes a range of activities to support learning about reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. Keep an eye out for their events while the zoo is open this summer.
Follow the Reaseheath Herpetological and Entomological Society (RHES) on Facebook to keep up to date with what they’ve been up to.
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