Everyone at Hanwell Zoo is delighted to be open once again and welcoming visitors through its doors – and people are reminded that to help everyone social distance safely there is now a mandatory advance online booking system in place.
The measures, which also include a one-way route around the zoo and the temporary closure of indoor spaces and the playground, have been brought in to help limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep everyone visiting as safe as possible.
One thing that has not changed is that there is always plenty to get excited about at the much-loved community zoo in Brent Lodge Park.
The latest animal additions come in the form of two miniature donkeys named Nile and Anubis, who settled into their new paddock in March.
Zookeeper Jim Gregory said about the charismatic beasts: “Miniature donkeys originated from Sicily where they were used for carrying water and pulling millstones.
“Sadly, even today, donkey numbers are falling globally because they are still seen as beasts-of-burden and exploited for trade in other countries. To have two donkeys here safe and happy, playing a role in our community, is brilliant.
“I have no doubt that they will prove really popular with visitors, but we also want to educate people about how valuable our donkeys are as a species and their urgent need for protection.”
Conservation at the forefront
This commitment to conservation, alongside the urgent issue of climate emergency are issues that Hanwell Zoo is working hard to engage the community in.
Jim continues: “In the last year we have welcomed around 3,000 local schoolchildren and discussed these vital issues with them.
“We have been working on projects which help raise awareness, including our recent sculptures of an elephant made from batteries and waterfall of plastic bottles to underline the importance of recycling.
“Measures to ensure that as a zoo we are as environmentally-friendly as possible have also been introduced. We have set up a youth board to help us make decisions about the zoo and how we can help the environment are selling more eco-friendly products in our gift shop.”
Rare cat joins growing number of species
Hanwell Zoo hosts more than 50 species – from meerkats and ring-tailed lemurs; to porcupines and red-crowned cranes.
There is also now a secretive, rare and threatened cat species from South America at Hanwell, too. A single male margay has moved in. There are currently just 17 recorded individuals living across seven UK zoos. This one is 16 years old and has joined Hanwell for his retirement. Margays are most closely related to ocelots and the zoo will be giving him an educational ‘public’ name – keep an eye on the zoo’s Facebook page.
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, the council’s cabinet member for finance and leisure, said: “I’m delighted that Hanwell Zoo is once again welcoming back visitors. There are a number of changes to ensure that everyone can continue to social distance safely so, if you are planning a trip, please go online to pre-book your visit.”
Book your visit online at Hanwell Zoo at www.facebook.com/hanwellzoo