Life in lockdown at Lincolnshire's wildlife parks

Birds still sing their dawn chorus, spring flowers are blooming and the animals on Lincolnshire's wildlife parks awake each day unaware of the challenge their keepers are facing to keep them fed are cared for.

Wolds Wildlife Park is keeping in touch with regular videos of the animals.

In many cases, staff and volunteers are having to stay away to self-isolate because of the coronavirus restrictions, leaving just the park owners and their families to cope.

However, Michelle Mintram, of the ARK Wildlife Park & Exotic Animal Sanctuary at Boston, says there are worse places to be isolated.

The park in West Fen Lane is home to over 250 animals that may have had to be put down or left abandoned had the Ark not stepped in to help - including crocodiles in bath tubs, raccoon dogs found wandering loose and a Savannah cat seized by the authorities.

Mouse and Lorenzo of the Wolds Wildlife Park wishing everyone a safe journey for the next few months.

Michelle said: "At this point, early on in the shutdown, we are managing with generous donations of food, although we are on minimal staff as we have have had to furlough our keepers, leaving just two of us and our kids to look after all the animals.

"We have also had to send our usual fantastic volunteers home as well as, with it just being us two, we cannot risk getting sick.

"We are coping OK at the moment and animal welfare comes first. There are worse places to be isolated, we have 10 acres, 250 animals and a lake and play park to keep us entertained.

"We have enough fresh food at the moment but are asking for help in the medium to long term as obviously with no money coming in our expenses don't go away."

Sunset safari's at the Wolds Wildlife Park have been put on hold.

To help raise people's spirits while they are unable to visit, ARK is posting with activity ideas for the children on their Facebook page at 11am and regular videos every two days.

They have launched a JustGiving appeal and donations can be sent to Ark Animal Sanctuary - Weʼre raising £5,000 to Help over 250 rescue animals during Covid-19 Pandemic.

There is a similar story at the Linconshire Wildlife Park, where trustees also took the "heartbreaking" decision to close their doors to the public.

With hundreds of varied species of birds and other animals, some of which are of the most critically endangered in the world, to feed and care for, that rely wholeheartedly on the keepers at the park, sourcing and providing vital produce for them was a growing concern, not to mention that, without the dedicated staff at the park, the animals would be unable to be looked after.

Michelle Mintram of the Wolds Wildlife Park is keeping busy looking after the animals with her children Josh and Chloe.

Staff have been reaching out to supporters and anyone that can provide help for these animals and their keepers by also launching a Crowdfunding campaign and keeping in touch with videos.

Their JustGiving campaign reached almost £10,000 in just two days and whilst the charity is overwhelmingly thankful of these donations, so far it is

simply not enough to sustain them.

The charity has not only received monetary donations but also numerous physical donations of vital supplies left on their doorstep by local pubs, bars and restaurants who have all been forced to close their doors.

Wilds Wildlife Park is grateful for the fruit and vegetable donations but need more.

The local community has also gone out of their way to provide essential fruit, vegetables and cleaning products for the charity. However with travel restrictions now in place from the government, these will not be able to continue, leaving staff in an extremely difficult position with an already stretched

budget.

CEO Steven Nichols commented: "The response from our supporters has been overwhelming to say the least. We are receiving phone calls

from local citizens to ask how they can help, as well as many suggestions of fundraising.

"People and businesses across Lincolnshire were turning up on our doorstep to help but now the lockdown has come into play even that’s stopped.

“It’s truly inspirational how supportive and generous people can be during such a difficult and uncertain time for us and them.

Lincolnshire Wildlife Park is grateful for the food donations.

"We have been increasingly nervous and fearful for the future, and this has really lifted all of our spirits and given us hope that there will be a future for us all.

"People still want to help so we are directing them to our Just Giving pages where they can make a small donation which will go a long way.”

To give a donation, visit the The Parrot Zoo COVID-19 Support page on JustGiving

page at. https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/LWPcoronafund?fbclid=IwAR0jeMssURg5cNbMB4ScIX-rXYofM7pNGb1hQH5KMeeaaffF80fzT3s2QFc

You can also donate to their Amazon Wish List.

Wolds Wildlife Park Ltd in Hornastle have had to put their big plans to open to the public full time at Easter on hold.

Andrew Riddel and his partner Tracy Walters, who also runs a recycling business, house an array of more than 200 unusual pets, including zebras, lions, a tiger, camels, emus, lemurs and miniature donkeys and have a three-year vision for two plots of land either side Hemingby Lane in Horncastle, which will feature 20 enclosures and shelters, an education centre and reception building housing a gift shop and cafe.

"We usually have full-time staff and volunteers but at the moment it is just me and my head keeper looking after the park - which means long days starting at 8am and finishing at 6pm," said Tracy.

"Since helping Tesco out with some barriers they have agreed to help us with donations of fruit and vegetables for the animals, which is fantastic.

"If anyone else can help us we will leave a tray outside the Hemingby Lane entrance - we'd be very grateful."

The park is also producing videos for Facebook so people can keep in touch with the animals. "We know we have a very difficult time ahead and we will do whatever we can to brighten your days with pictures and videos of our animals, as they remain completely oblivious to it," said Tracey.

To see the videos, visit Wolds Wildlife Park on Facebook.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT TO ALL OF OUR PARKS AND SANCTUARIES

Woodside Wildlife Park

Newball LN3 5DQ

Natureland Seal Sanctuary

North Parade, Skegness PE25 1DB

Mablethorpe Seal Sanctuary and Wildlife Centre

North End, Mablethorpe LN12 1QG

Messingham Zoo

Butterwick Road, Messingham,

Scunthorpe DN17 3PN

Northcote Heavy Horse Centre

Sandy Lane

Spilsby PE23 5PS

Jungle Zoo

Kings Road Boaring Lake, Cleethorpes DN35 0AG

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Lincolnshire Wildlife Park is grateful for the donations.
Lincolnshire Wildlife Park CEO Steve Nicholls is producing videos to keep supporters in touch with the animals.