Wildlife park ready to opens its gates
Westbury Wildlife Park will reopen its gates to the public this month for the first time in two decades.
The site was closed in the 1990s due to new animal regulations and has remained closed ever since. Board trustees Kira Emslie and her partner Jonathan Ashby have led the regeneration project, turning it into an asset for the local community once more.
Kira says: “It feels amazing to get to this point and we couldn’t have done it without the help of all the volunteers who kept going throughout a hard winter.
“We’ve all dedicated a lot of volunteer hours over this year-long process, especially to get the old educational building up to this point.
“It is a unique space in Bristol. The site has been rewilded and we will continue to encourage biodiversity, adding plants as we develop it.”
UWE wildlife conservation students from Bristol Zoo have turned up daily with their welly boots and shovels, getting stuck into the physical work needed to make the site safe for visitors. More than 250 volunteers signed up to help with the project and have worked in ‘safety bubbles’ following Covid regulations.
Two opening weekends are planned - Thursday 6 May to Sunday 9 May and Thursday 13 May to Sunday 16 May. The site will be open from 10am - 6pm, and visitors will discover a water area with two ponds, ducks swimming the stream, picnic spots with benches and tables. They may see some of the visiting birds, such as yellow and grey wagtails, mallards, robins and tits as well as various insects and wildlife.
In the interest of preserving the wildlife on site and understanding the interest and flow of the people this will be run as a series of ticketed days.
Tickets are free and have no age restrictions but entry will be in line with park rules, including no dogs, alcohol or antisocial behaviour allowed. The park can be found in Westbury-on-Trym, at the lower end of Trym Road near the Old Barn at Trymwood.
The organisers will be running wildlife workshops and competitions for kids over the opening weekends,and there will be an onsite coffee wagon for refreshments.
Kira and Jonathan describe the park as “still a work in progress” but they are keen to open and show people what’s been happening on site this last year and celebrate the hard work that volunteers have put into the wildlife park.
To reserve a ticket see: www.wwpf.uk/open