How do we decide what we house in our collection?
as we are a zoo a lot of people imagine we send people out to the jungle dressed like something out of Jumanji to bring back animals in crates which we then stick in cages for the public to gawp at.. this couldn't be further from the truth..
So how do we as a Zoo decide what comes to live in our collection.. First of all lets talk about what we currently house, and the definition of a zoo. Zoo seems to be a dirty word these days and I've often heard people say "oh such and such place isn't a zoo, its a sanctuary"... Lets not get bogged down in semantics, if a place houses animals that are on display to the public then they are a Zoo, they must be licensed as a Zoo and there are many pages of legal definition of what actually determines a place to be a zoo. But broadly speaking if you are visiting a collection of animals that is open to the public then regardless of what it says over the door.. it is a Zoo..
We are not ashamed to say we are a Zoo, but we are a zoo that currently provides sanctuary to many of our occupants. All of our terrapins have come to us to live out their lives as they had no alternative to live elsewhere, some of our animals have come to us as their previous owners were no longer able to keep them and some of our animals have been in our own collection for many years. If you look back through the history of zoos this seems to echo the founding's of most zoos... for example George Mottershead and Chester Zoo, Gerald Durrell and Jersey Zoo to name a few.
So what is a sanctuary.. a sanctuary if open to the public is a licensed zoo that provides a home for animals, typically until their end of life. We do provide sanctuary for animals but we wont ever try and vilify their origins as the majority of the time animals in need of sanctuary are coming from loving owners its just life circumstances that dictate a need for a new home, so semantics out of the way....
As a licensed zoo we operate to a development plan, a document that sets out how we are going to achieve the objectives of our mission statement and how we see the future of our zoo progressing forward. Alongside our development plan we have an animal collection plan which sets out what animals we will house and where they will come from.
Our animal collection plan states we will only house reptiles, amphibians or invertebrates, they must be of species that fall within our themed zones of Desert, Rainforest and Nocturnal, must be a species that by way of their size and nature we are able to provide the highest standards of welfare for them within the enclosures we have, must be species that provide education opportunities to the public, cannot be animals that are classified as hazardous or dangerous under zoo licencing guidelines, and only animals that are classified as conservation critical if we can provide meaningful conservation opportunities or were already in the collection prior to being classified as being at risk. If an animal ticks all of those boxes then priority is given to an animal requiring sanctuary, then we would look to other collections that have surplus captive bred animals. We would only house an animal caught from the wild if it was part of a recognised conservation program to preserve the species.
In summary we are able to obtain any new animals by providing sanctuary providing they meet the animal collection plan criteria without the need to dispatch a jumanji-esque animal collector into the jungle.