Just 20 minutes away from our holiday park is the beautiful Shaldon Wildlife Trust, also know as Shaldon Zoo. Set in an acre of woodland in a garden overlooking the adorable seaside village of Shaldon, the zoo looks after and helps preserve some of the rarest and most endangered animals in the world.
Many of the animals are part of a managed breeding programme which aims to keep as much genetic diversity as possible. One of the fundamental principles of the programme is to ensure there is a safety net population of animals in case of a massive decline in the wild. For example, if there was an earthquake it would be very possible that some species with small populations, could be wiped out completely. The animals in this programme would then help to repopulate and the species would not be lost forever. None of the animals at the zoo have come from the wild and all of them have been part of this breeding programme designed to protect rare and endangered species.
Primates form the largest group of animals at Shaldon Zoo and include the worlds smallest monkey, the Pygmy marmosets. Nearly all are endangered, and the Yellow-breasted capuchin, which has lost over 80 percent of its population during the past 50 years, is estimated to only have 300 in the wild.
Other mammals you can see are the margay cat, meerkats and armadillo’s and the Java Mouse Deer, which at the size of a rabbit, is the smallest hooved animal in the world!
Birds and reptiles are also at Shaldon Zoo and there are plenty of opportunities for you to get up close and personal with many of the residents.
One of the best experiences that Shaldon Zoo offers is Keeper for a Day where you actually spend the day with the keeper team and the animals. You can feed the animals, clean out their enclosures, meet reptiles and even feed the monkeys bugs and grubs! What an amazing way to spend the day! Places do go quickly for weekend visits so it’s worth planning this one in advance.
Other experiences include Meet the Meercats and Lemur Liaison where you get the chance to get really meet with these two animals and can even feed them live insects, meat and eggs before learning all about the conservation projects that the Shaldon Wildlife Trust supports.
It’s a great idea to make a day of your visit to Shaldon as the zoo offers free re-entry on the same day. So after starting the day with the animals you can head into the village for some lunch, explore the secluded beaches or coastal walks and then go back for the wildcat and civets feeding time!
Tickets are reasonably priced and offers you and your family a much more personal experience than many larger zoos for a fraction of the cost. If you would like to find out more they have an brilliant website which details the animals and the projects the trust are involved in.
The virtual tour and interactive map are also fabulous and give you a great idea of what your trip would be like and the online quiz is great for warming up the family before you arrive! https://www.shaldonzoo.co.uk/