Monday, 31 May 2010

US Oil-spill - tragedy continues

Photo reference: Dead Sea Turtle, courtesy of The Independent.
Information reference: facts quoted courtesy of BBC News on-line.

By now I think we're all aware of the ever-increasing tragedy resulting from one of the world's worst environmental disasters ever.
It's a Bank Holiday in the UK and most of us are fortunate to be enjoying some time relaxing with our families, celebrating the spring weather and getting out and about. Spare a thought as you do so for the myriad of ocean-living creatures that are continuing to perish as a result of the relentless gushing of leaking oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
Media reports state that thousands of gallons of oil are continuing to pump, uncontrolled, into the oceans off America's Gulf Coast every day. According to today's BBC News website at least 20 million gallons have now spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, affecting more than 70 miles (110km) of Louisiana's coastline. At least 12,000 barrels (504,000 gallons) are continuing to leak every day. Despite various attempts to stem the massive leak there has to-date been no success.

Most of us feel so helpless when an environmental disaster such as this occurs - what can we do (if anything) to help the situation? For me there's a feeling of grief at the loss and suffering of all the sea life - mixed with a real frustration at my impotence in being unable to help or really make a difference (and a sense of underlying guilt for being a Homo sapien responsible for the overt consumerism that somehow is at the root of this tragedy).
We are forced to trust that the 'experts' are really doing all that is humanly possible (regardless of associated price-tags) to solve this problem, urgently. Yesterday, University of Alabama engineering professor Philip W Johnson apparently said he was hopeful the new plan to build another dome to cap the leak would succeed; however the oil flow could increase by as much as 20% until the new containment device has been successfully applied over the leak.

Perhaps, if we focus our positive thoughts and prayers towards the Gulf coast today, our combined spiritual energy may somehow help to stem the flow.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Barrow load of Babes!

One of our younger visitors, Cameron Evans (above), spotted making friends with a few of the baby Penguins as they're ferried through the Park in their customised wheelbarrow taxi!

Animal Keeper Fern Daley is captured in the image on the left transporting this year's Humboldt Penguin chicks from their daytime 'creche' near the main penguin pool back to their night-time quarters in the incubation house.

This is a twice-a-day happening at the Park at this time of year - and extremely popular amongst our visitors! The chicks are now between 8 and 10 weeks of age. They're growing fast but won't be ready to join the adult colony on a full-time basis for the next few weeks - when their waterproof adult plumage has grown through.

Launch of new Italian "Coffee Corner" at Seaview Wildlife

Barry Chiverton recently joined the Team at Seaview Wildlife as our coffee specialist! Bringing with him many years of experience in the preparation of specialist Italian coffees, Barry is extremely enthusiastic about the launch of "Coffee Corner" - opened this week at the Park. Adjacent to the existing cafe "Coffee Corner" offers visitors a selection of delicious coffees, all authentically made - courtesy of Barry and a swish new Coffee Machine!
To accompany your chosen coffee (i.e. Americano, Latte, Cappuccino, Mocha, etc). There's a choice of sweet treats including Danish pastries, muffins, special cookies and flapjacks. On hotter days the Iced Coffee alternatives are already proving a very popular choice amongst our discerning Park visitors!

Image shows Barry Chiverton at the Park's new "Coffee Corner" coffee machine

Quotes of the week at Seaview Wildlife, Isle Of Wight

" We came here a lot 20 + years ago lots of times. First time back so pleased its not changed much. Please keep it the same - my Grandchildren enjoyed it as much as my children did - thank you" Kisklonski Family, Cambridge

"After many visits this is the best we have seen the Park. The attention to detail is first class. Keep up the good work". Jenny & Dave Robinson, Winford, IOW

"A fascinating & enchanting Park - in our estimation Seaview Wildlife is an out right winner!" Pat & Peter Felix, Redhill, Surrey

" Amazing Park loved every minute. Came 12 years ago and still great. Loved the birds and feeding the ducks and all the other animals. Will definately be back again" Anna & Andy Parsonage, Surrey.

" What a great Park! Lots to see and really well laid out and presented. Lovely staff too. Suitable for all ages too. Great stuff" . Andrew, Rachel & Faith Batten Roche, St. Austell, Cornwall

Monday, 24 May 2010

Letter of the Week - from Jenny Robinson

Dear Jules

It was so good to meet you and chat with you. Dave and I covered every inch of the Park today from 10.30 to 3.15 and I can honestly say it was the best day out we have had in a long time. We first visited the Flamingo Park as it was then, in the mid, 1980's, with our two children and remember it being one of their favourite attractions along with the Sandown zoo. It must be something to do with being able to get up close and personal with the animals. I certainly experienced that today as we went round. Even the 'caged' birds and animals didn't give the impression of being restricted. I particularly enjoyed the Oriental exhibit. Another one I found amusing was where the mother ducks were located with all their chicks. Without fail, every time a few people moved towards the wire, they all came running up as one. Appropriate really, seeing as they were the Runner Ducks!
I remember reading in the County Press some years ago about how they were experiencing problems getting the Caribbean Flamingos to breed, and putting out a request for people to supply them with mirrors to use as a backdrop to create the impression of a larger flock. It seems to have worked wonders although I noticed the mirrors are still in place.
The staff were extremely helpful especially when we were in the tropical house looking in the millipede tank. The lid was not in place and I was just thinking to myself that it had done a runner, when a member of staff came up to me and said 'I have got it here'. I was able to touch it and experience the feel of its body and see the tiny legs compared to the size of its body before she placed it back in the tank.
At the risk of waffling on too long, suffice it to say I was greatly impressed by the pristine appearance of the whole of the Park and to think it is still a work in progress in some parts. May you continue to flourish and attract visitors from both the mainland and the Island. I wouldn't have any hesitation in recommending it as a top-class place to visit with or without children.
I plan to return next week to make a video diary and to find out what is happening with the washroom/office!!
All the best
Jenny Robinson

I've included a photo I took earlier today of a Green-Crested Touraco ('Damian') in our Tropical House.

Visit from Miranda Stevenson and David Field

We were extremely pleased to welcome two special visitors to the Park today - Miranda Stevenson, director of BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria) and David Field, director of ZSL (London and Whipsnade Zoo) who is also part of the membership selection panel for BIAZA. Having recently been awarded provisional membership of BIAZA the Park is now privileged to be mentored by David Field who has kindly offered to guide us towards full membership status.
The reason for the visit today was for our visitors to have an overview of the Park - having a look at our animal and bird collections, our husbandry standards and some of our operational and management protocols. After spending four hours with us at the Park, Miranda and David gave us extremely positive feedback including some very constructive suggestions. The good news is that we're very much on the right track for being awarded full membership in due course. We're looking forward to working closely with both David and Miranda in the months ahead and in continuing to strive for excellence here at Seaview Wildlife Encounter.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Letter of the Week - from Marian Wade

Dear Jules
I have just looked at the pictures you took of the Harvest Mice in the Poppy, and of course I'm feeling 'Green' with envy! Ha ha.

Tony and I did make another visit to the Park Friday 14th. Guess where I spent most of my time? That's right, by the "Harvest Mice". They did come out to play, but ran around and around and around, with no chance of getting a picture, they were far too fast. Then, all of a sudden, one of them stopped, and at last I had my chance, but they didn't stop where I wanted them to, so I've ended up with what I call fussy backgrounds, therefore, they are nowhere near as good as yours. In fact I very much doubt whether anyone will get better pictures than the ones you have taken, so well done, they look so cute sat in the Poppy. Anyway I have attached a couple of mine, just to prove I did achieve my goal, and get some pictures, but they won't win any prizes!

I did get lots of other good images, including a Pelican in an unusual pose, several good ones of the baby Penguins waiting to be fed, and others of the Peacocks, Golden Pheasant, and Ducks, so now I have the task of deciding which ones are best to print out and add to our growing photo gallery.

In the meantime it was lovely to chat with you, and I will be keeping up with what's going on at the Park via your Blog.

With kindest wishes


Quotes of the week from our Visitors Book at Seaview Wildlife, Isle Of Wight

" Compare the Lovely Park!!!" Brailsford's, Lincoln

"Excellent!! Gardens beautiful - animals have everything they need. Very impressed."
Terry & Roy Blackmore, Lymington

" Very well run and very enjoyable. You have put alot of work into this Park. All the very best for the future you ALL deserve it". Ray Creach, St. Austell, Cornwall

" We had a lovely day here - clean, tidy and staff very helpful. Best time to visit with all the baby ducks etc...". Nicky, Southampton

" Wonderful, clean, animals well kept and looked after. Still as brilliant as it ever was! Definately coming back again. Thanks". Sarah Toplass, Isle Of Wight

" What a fantastic experience - everything from stroking a duck, a chicken and a wallaby (while she had a joey in her pouch!! Amazing day" Valerie & Robert Hodgson, Middlesex.

" We all loved it here! All the creatures seem happy and well cared for. Lovely clean place. Thank you! Great day we loved the penguins (and the baby ones especially)". Clarke Family

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Regional BIAZA meeting at Sealife in Weymouth

For those who are regular followers of our Blog you may remember that a few weeks back I mentioned that Seaview Wildlife Encounter had been accepted as a provisional member of BIAZA (British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums). We were invited to attend our second meeting yesterday that was hosted by Sealife Centre in Weymouth. We left Seaview at 7.00am and arrived just in time for 'kick off' at 10.30am (having driven across the Island, commuted by ferry from Yarmouth to Lymington and then 'sat navigated' our way to Weymouth).

Approximately 30 delegates attended - from all over the UK. These included big players such as Veronica from Dublin Zoo (which has the UK's second largest number of annual visitors after London Zoo), and smaller zoos, wildlife parks, aquariums as well as a private collector who keeps Zebras. There were also representatives from an online marketing company and a specialist insurance company. The wide assortment of people made for some interesting exchanges of ideas around the table. Forums such as these where discussion and debate is encouraged amongst like-minded wildlife professionals is crucial to opening up the communication process, identifying shared concerns and objectives and agreeing on timeframes and modus operandi on agreed action points. Hopefully BIAZA, in addition to arranging these meetings, will be instrumental in consolidating and manifesting some of the ideas that came to light.

We're looking forward to our meeting on Monday 24 May, here at Seaview Wildlife, with Miranda Stevenson from BIAZA along with our BIAZA-mentor David Field from London Zoo. David will hopefully be assisting us to fulfill the necessary requirements in the months ahead to become full BIAZA members.


Seaview Wildlife Encounter has lots of special happenings going on over the end of May Bank Holiday weekend. Bring your Mum, Dad and friends and have the best day ever - it's fun for everyone, kids and adults of all ages!

There are 9 wildlife events daily. come and enter our Wildlife quiz Trail. You can help throw fish to the Humboldt Penguins (and watch the Penguin chicks being fed); stroke the gentle Wallabies and their baby Joeys; pop a peanut to the parrots; and hand-feed the ducks and geese that roam freely around you. Pets Corner includes soft rabbits, guinea pigs and ducklings, and you'll hear the Otters calling out for their feed as it approaches 3.00pm!

Did you know that Basil our Pygmy Goat now has a little friend called Olly? - He's great fun and would love to meet you. For those of you who like making friends with bugs and reptiles there's an area of our Tropical House just for you!

Have you seen our new arrivals yet? Come and see our awesome Alpacas (in their new paddock), the two new furry female Meerkats, and in the Discovery Zone you might be lucky enough to see the cutest, tiniest Harvest Mice in amongst Poppies and ears of wheat; and don't forget the Leaf-Cutting Ants that carry pieces of leaves many times bigger than they are!

When your tummy rumbles we've got hot and cold light lunches, cream teas and our famous
soft-whipped delicious ice-creams (and new speciality Italian coffees are now available for grown-ups too!)

Bring your camera, there's loads to photograph - beautiful scenery as well as all the animals and birds you could ever wish to get nose to nose with!

See you next weekend!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

First images of our new Harvest Mice!

Our new Harvest mice have been quite shy since their arrival 5 days ago - but just a few moments ago one of these tiny creatures was sighted inside one of the Poppy flowers in their beautiful exhibit. This one's for you Marion!

Juvenile ducks being relocated to top lake

Pictured here is Fern Daley, Animal Keeper, in the midst of relocating juvenile ducks this morning. The youngsters are being moved from their nursey enclosure to the lake at the top of the Park next to Pelican Bay (there are new ducklings ready to take their place in the nursery enclosures). The juveniles in this image will now have a taste of the wider world, yet still in a safe environment. They'll be able to enjoy the company of adult ducks and other species of waterfowl whilst being hand fed by visitors. Here they'll mature safe from potential predators. In due course they'll gain confidence, spread their wings, and be able to come and go as they please - our new generation of Seaview Wildlife Mallards!

Albino Wallaby Joey enjoys Spring morning sunshine!

Yesterday I shared a couple of photos with you showing one of our brown Joeys - this morning is the turn of one of our albino Joeys enjoying some of the warm morning sunshine - captured here both in and out of Mum's pouch. The image above shows how life really couldn't get much better - this really is the layed back approach - using Mum's pouch as a cozy hammock, whilst snoozing and perusing the surrounds.

New grazing area for Alpacas and Goats!

A new paddock was opened at Seaview Wildlife this week! Adjoining the established Wallaby Walkabout, the Alpacas and Goats now have an additional area that increases their grazing and allows them to spend time with the Wallabies as well as on their own turf! They haven't bothered the Barnacle Geese nesting on the periphery, so harmony reigns!

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Our latest 'Be-a-Keeper-for-a-Day'

Kathryn (Kate) Littlewood was our most recent 'Be a Keeper for a Day'. Fourteen year old Kate was given this special experience as a gift from her Grandparents - spending the day with us here at the Park last Saturday. Kate said she really loved being a keeper and that her day shadowing Tara (our Education Officer) and working with some of the other Keepers has re-affirmed her desire to pursue a career as an Animal Keeper - possibly even to return here to Seaview Wildlife in due course. We look forward to keeping in touch Kate!

Barnacle Geese incubating their eggs and Canada Geese showing off their goslings!

Nesting Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis)

Two Canada Goslings (Branta canadensis)

A pair of Canada Geese with their goslings
(images above taken earlier today on-site at Seaview Wildlife Encounter)
For those readers who haven't yet visited the Park, the central area comprises a beautiful open area of grassland that we keep uncluttered ready for the return of our nesting pairs of Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis) each year. In the early 1970s when the Park first opened 5 pairs were introduced; now there are approximately 75 pairs - most of which return every Spring to raise their young. As of today, this year's gaggle of Barnacle Goslings hasn't started hatching - but watch this space for updates!
In the meantime, I couldn't resist capturing this family of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis). Canada Geese originate in the arctic and temperate areas of North America. Like most species of Geese they are naturally migratory, however where there is constant water, food and a lack of predators (such as at our Park) Canada Geese will remain close-by all year round.

You might have noticed from the image showing the parent Canada Geese with their goslings (immediately above) that the two parent birds look quite different from each other. The female (on the right) has a much darker head and neck, different plumage and a more streamlined physique than her male partner (on the left). This is because the male is a hybrid (a cross between a Canada Goose and a Domestic Goose) who was born here at the Park a couple of years ago. As with most of our waterfowl the fledged youngsters are free to come and go as they please - and this hybrid male has chosen to return to Seaview Wildlife, with his Canada Goose partner, to raise his young. Interspecies breeding is quite common amongst waterfowl. Hopefully the term 'hybrid vigour' will apply to these two new goslings and they'll go on to produce strong, healthy families of their own (returning to build their nests here in years to come).

The Joey youngsters are growing fast!

These images, taken earlier this morning, show how quickly our Wallaby Joeys are growing. Aged approximately five months this youngster is spending more and more time out of Mum's pouch. Although Joeys start to graze alongside their mothers from an early age they return to the pouch (to suckle, sleep or hide!) for up to a year.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Letter of the week

Dear Sir/Madam,

I'm writing to you basically to say how much me, me wife, the me children (9) and (5) ended our weeks holiday all for the good especially enjoyed feeding the animals including the penguins, wallabies and the parrots.

We go there quite often every time we come to the Isle of Wight and make it top of the list. Me boyz especially thought Jake was very nice and very helpful which also makes the visit more enjoyable special thanks to him.

Hope to see you all again, keep up the good work, take care, yours sincerely P.M. Day

Friday, 7 May 2010

Local conservation events!

As you may have already seen on our Wildlife Projects link on our web site, Education Officer Tara is involved with two very important conservation projects on the Isle of Wight, BDMLR (British Divers Marine Life Rescue) and Isle of Wight and Hampshire Wildlife Trusts Shoresearch project. If you have ever thought of yourself as a Marine Mammal Medic or simply enjoy putting on your wellies and discovering what mysterious creatures exist on your local shores then this could be your opportunity to become involved! Forthcoming events include:-

BDMLR, Marine Mammal Medic training day on Sunday 9th May @ 9am on Yaverland beach.

Shoresearch Survey on Saturday 15th May @ 6pm, Ryde beach.
For more information on the projects please have a look at our Wildlife Projects page on our website. Both projects are charity funded and therefore your support and involvement are essential to enable the BDLMR and Shoresearch to continue their hard work in protecting our local environments.
I hope to see you there! Tara

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Honeymooning with Penguin chicks!

As a surprise for his beautiful new bride (Sammy) Bryan Plumb made a special request to the Park - to spend time one-on-one with the Penguins. The honeymooners are captured in these images earlier today - feeding some of our Humboldt Penguin chicks. The delight on their faces says it all! Congratulations to Brian and Sammy and very best wishes for your married life together, from all the Team at Seaview Wildlife.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Quotes of the Week from our Visitors Book, Seaview Wildlife, Isle Of Wight

" We think this is the most attractive gardens etc.. on the IOW. Thanks. Jim, Waterlooville

" A smashing way to spend an afternoon. Thoroughly enjoyed all aspects". Dave and Marion, Chichester

"So much better than any other animal themed attraction in the UK". Jeremy Miller

" The best day of my life, EVER!!!". Georgina Ward, Shanklin

" Thought it was a great day out and we liked how much the public were involved in feeding the animals. Lovely setting". Amy Howe and family, Bristol

Monday, 3 May 2010

New Exhibit of Harvest Mice - are on their way!

Our Harvest Mice (Micromys minutus) are due to arrive at the Park this coming Thursday (6th May). We're starting with 2 pairs and intend to provide an environment for them in our Discovery Zone where they'll thrive - and hopefully breed! This is Britain 's smallest mammal - weighing only 5 - 11 grams when fully grown. They feed mainly on seeds, fruits and bulbs and are active day and night, although most activity occurs at dusk. They're a delight to observe as they climb and make their way along stems, grasses and branches! We're looking forward to sharing these extremely cute new arrivals with all our visitors to the Park.

Leaf-Cutter Ants due to arrive at the Park this week!

Craig Holmes, our Headkeeper will be on his way to Paignton Zoo tomorrow (Tuesday 4th May) to meet up with Dr David Stradling. Dr Stradling has sourced a colony of Leaf-Cutter Ants (Atta cephalotes) on our behalf and will be kindly going through some of the key husbandry pointers with Craig. The ants will form a new exhibit in our 'Discovery Zone' here at the Park. These fascinating creatures originate in the tropical forests of South America. Their
jaws can vibrate a thousand times a second when they're slicing through leaves and they can carry 20 times their own body weight - that's the same as a human carrying a one ton load! We're looking forward to their arrival!

Feedback on our presentation to the Wildlife Trust at Swanwick Lakes Wildlife Reserve

Our presentation to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust on Thursday went well! We met up with quite a few people from the Trust as well as other Corporate sponsors. The event enabled us to learn more about some of the Trust's valuable work, to give more thought to possible future partnership projects, and to give fellow members and Trust representatives an overview of life at Seaview Wildlife Encounter!
We thoroughly enjoyed our outing to Swanwick Lakes. We arrived early enough to enjoy a brisk walk around some of the Reserve and Lakes. This is a tranquil, scenic reserve nestled in amongst suburbia - a beautiful hideaway with an education centre and over 2 miles of pathways around lakes and woods. I took a couple of quick photos to capture some of the feel of the day including this one of the fisherman with his dog sitting in one of the many fishing areas at the water's edge. Apparently all fish are treated with respect and returned to the water!