How many towns can boast they have meerkats, lemurs and bearded dragons in their parks? Well, Hanwell can. And there is lots to do and see this spring at the newly renamed Hanwell Zoo.
The animal centre’s change of name was made to better reflect its array of wildlife. It has been tucked away in Brent River Park, often called the Bunny Park, for 42 years but has more creatures than ever before and has plans to expand even more this year.
Beau-Jensen McCubbin, zookeeper at the centre for six years, told us about the work – and a big year ahead. “Our zoo is very much a taste of the wild in a busy city,” said Beau-Jensen. “And we pride ourselves on the sense of community here. Over the past few years, we have renovated every single animal space within the zoo, creating larger and more modern habitats for the rare animals that live here. Our collection, too, has grown. Endangered red-crowned cranes and green peacocks now live in our large Asian aviary, dedicated to the conservation of rare birds from the Far East.
“Ever entertaining meerkats and porcupines live in our African space which was opened by friend of the park Stephen Fry. Our ‘Jungle Walkthrough’ houses a number of fantastic lizards, snakes and butterflies and our Madagascan space is now home to a family of ring-tailed lemurs.
“With the rare agouti (a large South American rodent) and Bali starlings (one of the rarest birds in the world), to the more familiar pigs, goats, rabbits, chickens and turkeys, there is so much to learn here about the natural world.”
Dates for the diary
There are a couple of events in particular you should look out for at the zoo:
- Sunday 26 March: Mother’s Day – Bee Green. Learn about the importance of recycling and how bees help us. Decorate a jar to grow your own bean plant in.
- Easter weekend (14-17 April): An Easter egg hunt will help you learn about all the layers at the zoo. There will be prizes and other fun activities.
A big year – and new charges
From 1 April there will be entrance fees into the zoo (not the park) – adults will pay £2.50 and children over three years old £1; but children under three years old will continue to be free. There will be annual season tickets at great prices – and membership packages too. This entrance money will be essential in funding the running costs of the zoo. You can read more on the zoo’s Facebook page.
“2017 is a big year for the zoo,” said Beau-Jensen. “And we have a number of new animal arrivals expected.
“Our conservation work, and education programmes within the community, would not be possible without the support of our wonderful visitors and volunteers, so thank you.”
With the beautiful parkland surrounding the zoo, an arboretum, play areas, a maze, and a renovated cafe, there is something for everyone in the Bunny Park and Hanwell Zoo itself should continue to be a family favourite for many years to come.
Visit facebook.com/hanwellzoo and look out for the zoo’s new website, which is due to launch in March.