Meet-the-animals-and-keepers-at-NFWPThere’s a chance to meet Mr Hedges the hedgehog, Jester the ferret and Hobbit the barn owl during animal encounter sessions at New Forest Wildlife Park over May half term and Love Your Zoo Week (May 23rd to 30th).

Animal encounter sessions are a wonderful way to get up close to some of the park’s wildlife and to ask keepers about their habits, habitat and care. Depending on the timing of your visit, there are also special keeper talks about the harvest mice (which have a wonderful new glass enclosure), the pine marten, European bison, Scottish wildcats, wallabies, wolves, giant and Asian short-clawed otters, lynx, deer and tropical butterflies.

May 27th is also International Otter Awareness Day so there’ll be some special treats for the park’s four species of otters on that day.

Annual Love Your Zoo Week is organised by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA aims to encourage members of the public to visit their local zoos and wildlife parks during the week to learn more about the valuable contribution they make to wildlife education, conservation and rescue.

New arrivals at the park this spring are two baby mouflon (a species of wild sheep), plus wild boar piglets and a joey for female wallaby Gwen.

NFWP is set in 25 acres of beautiful woodland and has many amazing animals to see in natural settings. There are free-roaming roe, sika and fallow deer, along with Asian short-clawed, giant, North American River and Eurasian otters.

You can also see lynx, Scottish wildcats, wolves, wallabies, foxes, wild boar, giant otters, European bison, red deer, polecats, pine marten, ferrets, badgers, mouflon and several species of owls.

There are two fabulous adventure playgrounds – Go Wild and Mini Go Wild – where children can let off steam, have fun and challenge their climbing, swinging, bouncing and balancing abilities.

New Forest Wildlife Park rescues injured and abandoned wildlife, such as orphaned otters, in association with the RSPCA and is involved in international captive breeding programmes for endangered species, such as the giant otter.

The New Forest Wildlife Park is at Deerleap Lane, Longdown, Marchwood, Southampton, SO41 4UH. Tel 02380 292408. www.newforestwildlifepark.co.uk

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