Friday, 19 September 2014

Wildplace 5: Grey Wolf

Part of the aim of Wildplace is to show animals which were once part of the natural fauna of Britain, and one of the most iconic of all extinct British animals is the wolf. Once so numerous in Britain that tributes were levied in wolf skins, and guards were employed to protect sheep flocks, they became extinct in England by the 15th century, and in Scotland by the late 17th century. In Ireland they persisted until the 18th century.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Wildplace 4: Pigmy Goats

Pigmy Goat
One of the longest domesticated animals (after the dog) in the world is the domestic goat. From its original home in Asian mountains, it has travelled with humans all over the world, and unfortunately it is also one of the ecologically destructive. Despite this, it is also one of the most useful of all domestic animals, as its appetite for vegetation of all kinds makes it a prime converter of inedible plants into meat that humans can eat, and milk that they can drink. With such a long history, numerous breeds have been developed for more specialised purposes, from dairy to wool to meat. At Wildplace the goats are part of the Malagasy Village, and are one of the most commonly seen breeds in a display situation, the Pigmy Goat.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Wildplace 3: Guineafowl

The next exhibit along the path is the Malagasy village and lemur walk through. The first section is linked to a project that Wildplace and Bristol Zoo support on the Sahamalaza peninsula in the remote north west of Madagascar, where the researchers are investigating the endemic Blue-Eyed Black Lemur and Sahamalaza Sportive Lemur among other species of this little-known region. As with all the habitats on Madagascar there is grave human pressure from subsistence farming and bushmeat hunting, and so the consortium of organisations also support local education, improvements in farming practises, and healthcare in order to simultaneously increase local support and hopefully reduce pressure on the environment. For this reason the visitor first passes through a village exhibit, with a open-fronted primary classroom like the ones that the zoo supports, and typical farm animals that one might encounter. The first of these is a small flock of chicken-sized domestic poultry, guineafowl.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Wildplace 2: Common Eland

Sharing the zebra paddock are two young male Common Eland, Taurotragus oryx. There are three subspecies – I am not sure which the Wildplace animals are, but probably the southern subspecies T.oryx oryx. The only other species in the genus is the Northern or Giant Eland, T. derbianus. Also closely related are the eight species of Tragelaphus, including Kudu and Sitatunga. These are placed in the subfamily Bovinae of the family Bovidae, which means that although commonly called “Antelopes” they are actually more closely related to cattle than to the smaller members of the family which are often generically referred to with the same English name.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Wildplace Project Animals: Plains Zebra

Plains Zebra
A year ago Bristol Zoo finally opened its long planned development at Wildplace, located at Hollywood Towers Estate near Bristol by the M5. A lot of the site is old woodland, which makes it a good site for birders to visit, especially in the spring. Butterflies are also plentiful.