There has been a bird garden in the grounds of Lotherton Hall since 1980 but this is currently being added to with work being undertaken to build Lotherton Wildlife World. A colony of Humboldt Penguins, Capybaras and a tapir have recently taken up residence here and they've attracted lots of visitors so I decided it was time for us to visit them too.
A series of themed zones are being created and the first one we visited was the Coastal Zone which features an enclosure where flamingos, wading and free flying birds will live alongside the new penguin pool, which has above and below water viewing areas. The penguins have already moved in ahead of the other residents.
Their new home features natural surfaces and the pool will allow these 17 Humboldt Penguins to behave as they would in the wild and also breed, meaning Lotherton can contribute to the national breeding programme.
The below water viewing area is such a good idea. Visiting children were so excited to be able to see the penguins swimming past and the penguins seemed to be showing off, swimming right up to the glass.
These are South American penguins which breed in coastal Chile and Peru and the species is listed as vulnerable.
Humboldt penguins socialise in large colonies but choose only one partner for life.
The above water viewing areas are excellent allowing visitors to see the penguins up close.
The colony is made up of penguins from zoos in Newquay and Dudley and their introductions must have gone well as they seemed to be happy living with each other. They're real characters.
We then went on to visit the Forest Zone where some capybaras have recently been introduced to Lotherton.
Capybaras are the largest living rodents in the world. It's quite obvious that their close relatives include guinea pigs and rock cavies, they look just like giant guinea pigs to me.
Arthur the tapir is another new resident at Lotherton. Unfortunately, he was ensconced under a heat lamp indoors on Sunday so we only got to see him through the window. He looked very comfy though. We'll definitely make a return trip to see him again at a later date.
Whilst we were there we couldn't miss the opportunity to visit the Andean Condors. They're a variety of vulture from the Andean Mountains in South America and the largest bird of prey in the world. They have a wingspan of over three metres and weigh over twenty five pounds. I think they look like they're wearing a furry hood.
Future plans at Wildlife World include an Africa Zone, featuring a new mongoose exhibit, a Children's Zone, with a small zoo and farm animals and an Asia-themed zone which will be home to red pandas and an otter exhibit.
It all sounds very exciting.