In the last week of the school holidays, we went on a family visit to Marwell Zoo, near Winchester in Hampshire.
Marwell Zoo opened in 1972, in the grounds of Marwell House, a fine country house with its origins in the fourteenth century. In the 1500s, the house was owned by the Seymour Family. Their daughter, Jane, was the third wife of King Henry VIII.
Marwell Zoo was founded by John Knowles, the then owner of the house and land. By building a collection of animals, many of which are extinct in the wild or severely threatened, the aims are to conserve species and to educate the public. The animals are well cared for in environments which are adapted to their specific needs and enriched to provide as natural behaviour as is possible within a zoo setting.
More information can be found at http://www.marwell.org.uk and on Wikipedia.
We saw a fraction of the 1200 animals, of 235 different species, currently being cared for and bred by Marwell Wildlife, the conservation charity that runs Marwell Zoo. Photography isn`t easy through wire fences, so only a few images were reasonable enough to post.
Above and below is a cheetah. Like all the animals, it appears to be in very good condition.
The Giraffe House provides a warm, loose-box type of environment, where the animals can come and go at will. They have a field to wander, but preferred to be inside on the cold day when we visited.
Giraffe breed here, so the photographs show animals of all ages. Below, a group are feeding from their high hay rack.
We wondered if this young one was teething on the wire?
They have strange and beautiful faces.
Child with Mother.
A Hartmann`s Mountain Zebra
Grevy`s Zebra, grazing a large field alongside Scimitar Oryx from Sub Saharan Africa. Both species have been successfully bred at Marwell. The oryx was extinct in the wild but is now being reintroduced by the captive breeding programme.
Dorcas Gazelle - again from the desert lands of Africa.
A member of the large colony of Meercat who live at Marwell. Sunbathing under a heat lamp was the best place to be on a chilly afternoon.
Marwell House, behind part of the large, enriched enclosure for the Rhinos, who were all inside sleeping when we visited. We could stand on one side of a transparent wall and watch them dozing in a group, just yards from where we stood.
A lizard, camouflaged to the slightest difference of colour and light of its background rocks.
A snow leopard feeding; one of another species endangered in the wild.
South American Capybara, grazing.
It was a busy day at Marwell when we visited. Spring daffodils brightened the park and many excited children were enjoying a day seeing animals from across the world. It was heartening to see the next generation being encouraged to learn about and to love the wild creatures so endangered in their native lands.