Juniour Journalist

Hi! For those that don’t yet know me, my name is Ellie Gilbey, junior journalist for Wingham Wildlife park and this is my first blog of a series of experiences at Wingham.

Right from my entrance to the park, I found a variety of different species that instantly grabbed my attention as I was pleasantly surprised at the range of exotic creatures that visitors can discover. Even though each species were special in their own way, I have to admit that the squirrel monkey was my personal favourite!

FUN FACT:  Do you know that the squirrel monkey has up to 30 different calls to communicate with others in their troops (a group of squirrel monkeys) these calls are used for things like finding food or if they are threatened. Kind of like when your parent calls you to the dinner table for a meal!

The squirrel monkeys at Wingham are part of the park’s Rainforest S.O.S programme. This programme has an aim of educating it’s visitors about rainforests around the world. You will notice whilst walking through the exhibit, as did I, that it is not only animals that are endangered, but plants too. All the more reason that us humans should focus on doing more to protect and care for the world we live in. Issues such as deforestation leave vulnerable animals without a home and are a bigger threat to their lives than just natural predators.

So what can we do to help?

Well, I can honestly say that my experience at the Rainforest S.O.S exhibit taught me a lot about issues facing nature and the future impact that we have on our environment whether it be local or worldwide. To help prevent these issues we can do things such as remembering to tidy up your litter wherever you are as harmful materials such as plastics and foils end up in the sea, endangering the lives of our marine animals. Or in the squirrel monkey’s case, habitat loss and being put into captivity and being sold for the illegal pet trade.

Wingham has successfully provided a safe and happy environment for endangered species to thrive and provided a home for them to feel secure in a foreign environment.

Junior Journalist

Another beautifully exotic creature that came to my attention was the red panda. You might mistake these adorable animals to be very large teddy bears because of their small ears and round button noses, but don’t be fooled, these clever creatures have special features such as the ability to rotate their ankles so that they are able to descend from a tree head first, how cool is that!

FUN FACT:  Do you know that there has been an ongoing debate between scientists as to whether the red panda is closely related to the racoon due to similarities in their physicality and appearance. On your next visit to Wingham Wildlife Park, be sure to go and checkout the red panda for yourself and see what you can learn!

ACTIVITY: CALLING ALL PARENTS! Here’s an opportunity for you to get your little explorers more aware of different species and their similarities. Find a wonderful animal that strikes your child’s interest and see if they can find another species that could be related to their chosen animal. Consider country of origin, appearance and diet to really get an insight into each. Also by doing this, your child will be able to contradict their choices as they may find that the original species that they chose to compare may not be as closely linked to each other as they previously thought. If your child enjoys this activity then be sure to try it again with a range of different species too! Also feel free to ask one of the keepers at Wingham for facts about a species as it could really help with your child’s research, keeping those inquisitive minds ablaze!

The keepers at Wingham hold talks on certain animals at times to offer information and allow you to form a more in depth relationship with the animals. I enjoyed learning about the red panda, Mai including that she eats bamboo just like giant pandas and learning a bit about her back story, from her journey to adapting to her new life at the wildlife park.

Here’s an adorable picture of Mai the red panda!

Junior Journalist

How cute is she! And of course you can go and see Mai herself on your next trip to Wingham and tell your friends all about her lovely character, maybe even get yourself an experience with Mai so you can feed her and get a more personal interaction. Also, updates on inhabitants such as Mai will be on the Wingham Wildlife website. Go see what you can learn!

At the park, certain enclosures such as the ring-tailed lemurs allow visitors to walk through it and sometimes, you might even get a lemur jump on you! Although you mustn’t touch them in case of accidental harm, the lemurs are as free as can be to explore you. Don’t be scared though because they will not harm you as long as you are respectful.

Ring-tailed Lemur

Here’s a picture of my younger sister with a lemur climbing onto her showing how friendly they are!

It was a really great experience to be in the lemur enclosure because of the interaction and also I found out some interesting facts from the keeper that I had no idea about before. For example,

FUN FACT: Do you know that you may see a lemur sitting like it is on a throne, and no they are not posing for your epic photograph. They actually sit like this to catch sun rays on the white fur on their bellies as it is thinner than the grey fur on their backs and needs more nutrients, just like us humans getting a tan on the beach! Actually, the keeper was speaking to me of how human like lemurs are and that actually, we can learn a lot from them.

I am definitely going to visit the lemur enclosure again!

ACTIVITY: IT’S YOUR TURN LITTLE EXPLORERS! Take a picture with the lemurs and try and do the iconic pose yourself. Oh and remember to tag Wingham Wildlife Park on social media so you can share your day with other explorers!

FUN FACT: Do you know unlike most species, male lemurs are inferior to the female lemurs. Unfortunately, as a result, sometimes the males can get bullied by the females and have to live on the outskirts which can seem unfair as it’s not ok to bully but this is just part of lemur nature and as I said before, it doesn’t happen all of the time.

In terms of habitat, some lemurs live in rainforests and others live in very hot and dry areas. However, many lemurs are found living in overgrown forests as there is more food in those areas. Lemurs rely on a variety of food, giving them a higher chance of survival than some other species.

CAN YOU GUESS WHAT LEMURS EAT?

Did you get it right?  They mainly eat a range of different fruits and nuts depending on the season and are very clever with knowing what can be growing and where at a certain time of the year! However, the lemurs do unfortunately suffer from deforestation due to villagers in their area chopping down trees to restore their own living conditions. As a result of this, lemurs are one of the most endangered species in the world. Here’s a picture of the ring-tailed lemur.

Ring-tailed Lemur

I really had a great day at Wingham Wildlife Park and can’t wait to go back again! I learnt so much in just one day and I can go back to school and share with everyone what I’ve learnt even in the summer holidays! But this isn’t just it, there’s SO MUCH MORE to learn and discover, not just about these animals but there are lots more too! The wildlife park offers a HUUUGGEE variety of different species to discover from exotic birds to lions, the kings of the jungle. But reading a blog is one thing, and seeing it for yourself is another. So take your family and friends to Wingham Wildlife Park and come and be an explorer, see what you can discover!

NOTE: Don’t forget to look for updates on our blogs and vlogs to keep in touch with your favourite animals. Also scan the QR codes around the park to watch live talks on the fantastic creatures. I loved watching the penguin talk! Which is your favourite?

About Ellie - Junior Reporter

Ellie was selected as one of our junior reporters for the period of 2019 until 2020 and was 15 years old when she first got involved.