One of the kinkajous being rescued by the ARK exotic animal sanctuary.

Ambitious plans for Lincolnshire's biggest dinosaur park at exotic animal sanctuary

It was probably inevitable that the 10-year-old boy who had a snake as a pet when his mates had dogs and cats would grow up seeking a career in the wild.

By Chrissie Redford
Thursday, 7th April 2022, 9:18 am

What may be surprising, though, is his dreams have brought him to a village in Lincolnshire, where something a lot bigger than a tiger will soon be roaring in the countryside.

Ambitious plans have been revealed for the county’s biggest dinosaur park at the Ark Wildlife Park and Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Stickney.

Transforming the park into a themed area with Animatronic dinosaurs, it is hoped the new ‘beasts’ will be unveiled by late May - when the zoo will also be welcoming some new ‘rescues’.

Already a sanctuary to 250 creatures of varying sizes, the zoo is unique in that all the species have been rescued from people who wrongly thought it would be a good idea to have an exotic animal as a pet in their home .

So far it hasn't had to rescue a lion or tiger, but it is home to a crocodile that was being kept in a flat in London - when the phone rings, the owners never know what creature might need their help

Jamie Mintram, who co-owns the park with his wife Michelle, is excited about introducing dinosaurs, which will form a large part of the park’s makeover for 2022.

"We came up with the idea because we had some funds over from the Government Bounce Back Loan and we thought it would be a good idea as another attraction for young children," he said.

"Because we are a zoo, we do not get any other funding and rely on visitors to pay for the upkeep of the animals, so we are hoping it's a good attraction. Children never seem to tire of their love of dinosaurs."

Other plans for 2022 include an indoor soft play area, “Trash Panda Towers”, suitable for 9 yrs and under, and a toddler area for under 5’s.

However, there is much to do before then, including raising £3,000 to rescue three gorgeous kinkajous.

The sanctuary works closely with AAP, an animal protection organisation in the Netherlands, who called and asked for help with the rescue of part of a large group of 12 kinkajous that were confiscated in Spain.

"These were confiscated from an unscrupulous breeder who was operating throughout Europe, breeding these beautiful animals just to make money," said Jamie.

"However, with two other projects on the go to rescue a couple of wildcats, who were previously pets, and a group of banded mongooses, funds are tight.

"We had enough funds to build enclosures the other animals we are expecting in May but need £3,000 to build an enclosure for the kinkajous.

"So we thought we would launch an appeal and see because without the funds we won't be able to take them."

Kinkajous are not an endangered species, but their numbers are thought to be decreasing.

Their forest habitat is being disturbed and destroyed in many places and many have been hunted for their meat and their pelts.

"We would really like to help at least three of these gorgeous and unusual animals to live out their lives in peace, here at the Ark," added Jamie.

Along with his wife, Jamie runs the park with the help of their children Josh and Chloe, a team of zookeepers and some dedicated volunteers.

"It's great to see my children coming on board," said Jamie. "Exotic animals have always been in my blood because my mum was a pioneer in breeding captive animals.

"I was the strange kid who had my first pet snake at the age of 10 before it became fashionable and you could buy them in pet shops.

"We started rescuing animals when we lived in Norfolk but needed more space and looked for somewhere to relocate.

We found what was a former farm park in Stickney and the has grown from there.

"We are really proud to have been awarded two BBC Make a Difference Awards for the work we do."

As well as donations to build the enclose for the kinkajous, Ark would like to hear from any companies able to help and are offering behind the scenes tours, entrance tickets or encounters as a 'thank you'.

To make a donation, visit https://gofund.me/cabd22ffABOUT ARK WILDLIFE PARK AND EXOTIC ANIMAL SANCTUARY

It features with a wide range of animals, including Eurasian Lynx, Jaguarundi, Macaques, Meerkats, Caiman, Lemur monkeys, Raccoons, snakes, Foxes, Coatis, Civets, Tanukis, Porcupines, Iguanas, Pygmy goats, wallabies and many more.

The mission is to rescue and rehabilitate animals in need from the exotic pet trade, and to raise public awareness of the many issues surrounding the trade including wildlife trafficking and the global trade in animal derivatives.

The Ark also offers a peaceful home to ex laboratory monkeys.

As it is a zoo, it relies entirely on visitors and donations to fund the care of not only the current residents but also future rescue projects.

A special Easter at the Ark event is taking place where children get to meet the Easter bunny and receive a free bag of treats. Under 2's go free but have to pay 50p for the treats.

The sanctuary can be found just off the A16 on West Fen Lane in Stickney, close to the beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds, eight miles north of Boston and 10 miles south-east of Horncastle and 19 miles from the popular holiday resort of Skegness. It readily accessible from Peterbourgh, Lincoln and Kings Lynn.

For more details visit arkwildlifepark.co.uk.

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