Thursday, 30 September 2010

DNA sexing of Caribbean Flamingos

DNA sexing from blood or feathers is the safest (and surest) way of determining the sex of any bird of any age. Here at the Park we prefer to pluck feathers than draw blood. One of our senior Keepers is responsible for ‘catching up’ the bird/s (in this case two of our Caribbean’s) and plucking three or four down feathers from the chest, placing them in a sealable plastic bag and sending them to be analysed in a specialist laboratory – who then inform us of the sex of the bird/s.

Feather plucking (resized) for sexing - Caribbeans 30 Sept 10 Caribbean caught up for feather plucking (re-sized)

Images taken earlier this morning – Caribbean Flamingos being ‘caught up’ for feather plucking – to be DNA tested – to confirm the sex of the birds.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


The Team at Seaview Wildlife Encounter (previously Flamingo Park) are very proud to announce that 2010 has been our best year ever in the 39 years since we opened in 1971!!

We have recorded the highest number of visitors to the Park and the most amount of positive feedback from the visiting public remarking on our consistently high standards (referring to our animal husbandry, customer service, park grounds, cleanliness, excellent choice of gifts as well as our delicious and well-priced food). This has all resulted in the Park being described as the “best day out on the Isle of Wight” and as being one of the "best hands-on wildlife visitor attractions" in the United Kingdom.

We are celebrating the positive energy of the whole Team that has contributed towards this success, and recognise the effort and input of every single individual. Each employee has truly grasped the excitement of striving for excellence. High standards have been achieved and maintained in all areas of the business.

Thank you to all our visitors – especially those who return on a regular basis to experience and enjoy their own wildlife adventure here with us. It seems that whether our guests actively participate in the daily schedule of wildlife talks and events (including stroking the Wallabies and helping feed the Penguins) or choose to escape to the tranquility of the Tropical House, or the lower lake - there is something here that touches the heart of everyone who visits.

Less Flamingo enclosure (resized) in Autumn colours 2

Taken earlier today in our Lesser Flamingo enclosure, this image gives a taste of why Seaview Wildlife is becoming known as the Isle of Wight’s most precious hidden gem.

The autumn-coloured leaves reflecting in the pond are particularly beautiful at this time of year.

Despite the tranquil setting here, and the fact that our season closes at the end of October, there’s SO much going on behind the scenes! There’s an ongoing whirlwind of energy in planning, managing and implementing whatever needs to be done on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to lift the Park to even higher levels of excellence.


A worthy cause to share with our friends:


Please Help Save the Congo 500
Dear Animal Care Team ,

Emergency! We need your help to rehabilitate almost 500 Grey Parrots rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.

With only 2 hours notice, the Lwiro Primate Sanctuary has been thrust into an emergency parrot rescue on an unimaginable scale. A recent confiscation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on September 18th by a quick thinking government official, has saved almost 500 wild Grey Parrots (Psittacus erithacus) destined for the bird markets in Singapore.

Help the Congo 500 -- Take Action The birds are safe for now but need your help to begin their journey home to the wild.

Thanks to the outstanding support of people like you to our FlyFree Program, the WPT was able to send emergency funds to provide for the birds' immediate care.

The emergency aid will cover their short-term needs. But in the coming weeks and months the birds will need intensive rehabilitation to ready them for release back into the wild. Many had their wings damaged by being tied to one another to prevent them flying, and will require time to re-grow lost feathers. Other care will include giving veterinary assistance, providing proper nutrition, and building large flights to encourage exercise.

Please send a donation today »
You are making a difference in the lives of wild parrots.

And remember, 100% of your donation will be used to return parrots to the wild and help put an end to the wild-caught bird trade forever!

Jamie GilardiBest regards,
Jamie Gilardi
Director, World Parrot Trust

Prefer to make a donation offline? Click here to print a form you can send back via postal mail.

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Sunday, 26 September 2010

Another fantastic letter sent to Seaview Wildlife

20th September, 2010

Dear Sirs

I wanted to drop you a line to say how much we enjoyed our visit to you on Friday 17th September whilst staying with my Parents on the Island.

Our son Oliver who is two, had an amazing time feeding the penguins and being able to touch a baby penguin. My particular favourite were the wallabies, it was amazing to be able to get so close and stroke them. The meerkats too were fascinating.

It was a joy to see the many different animals and birds and the superb condition they are all kept in. Even a thought had been given to the 'old timer' ducks, so that they could enjoy a more relaxing retirement.

Thanks again and we will certainly be back next year.

Yours faithfully,

Corrin Barabash

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Another fab' letter sent to Seaview Wildlife

25th September, 2010

" My partner and I visited you on September 14th. Oh boy what a great place. We did not see one single animal that was not happy.

The enclosures were so well designed and spacious. I was able to feed the penguins and the macaws, it was wonderful.

Keep up the good work if we ever return to the IOW we will make sure we visit you again".

Wendy MacNeil.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Quotes of the Week

" Second visit for all of us - just had to come back" Barbara & David, Yorkshire

" Had a lovely time and what a fantastic place" Steve & Rose, West Sussex

" We are glad we now live on this beautiful Island. The Park is as always delightful & the staff great. Extra 'stars' for the staff in the cafe, food 'yum yum' and well presented" Residents! IOW (WOW)

" Probably best place visited on Island, fantastic place" M. Ginn, Eastbourne

" Brilliant. Well looked after and maintained - well done to all" Eileen Barry, Brighton.

" Second visit in a week. Mary & Sally both bubbly, friendly ladies. I would love to work with them - could do with them in the petrol station where I work! Very interesting place to visit. Well done to all staff"
Kath & Paul Bennett, Bristol

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Celebrating Chilean chicks of all ages and sizes – and some still to hatch!


CHILEAN FLAMINGO (Phoenicopterus chilensis)

Young Chileans (resized) Sept 10


Chilean Flamingos originate in South America.  They make their nests out of mud by piling mud into large mounds about 15 inches in diameter and 1 ½ -2 feet tall.  The female makes an indentation on the top where she lays her egg.  Incubation lasts 27-31 days, and both the mother and father sit on the egg.  When it hatches, the chick is covered with gray downy feathers.  Their beaks are straight at birth so that they can be fed by regurgitation from their parents.  After a few months the beak curves.  They grow into their adult plumage over a period of about two years.  They become sexually mature at 6 years of age.   The typical lifespan in the wild is up to 50 years. 


So far this season we’ve been blessed with 17 Chilean Flamingo chicks – they’ve been hatching throughout the summer – the range of different ages and sizes of chicks can clearly be seen in the image (left).




Chilean with late Sept 10 chick (resized)


The image on the right shows one of the younger Chilean chicks still spending much of its time close to the ‘nest’ (the mound of mud at the back of the enclosure) with the female parent bird. 

The Chilean Flamingo is listed on the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix II.  This appendix lists species that are in need of protection and are considered to be threatened, likely to become endangered, if trade is not regulated.  All flamingo populations in the wild are at risk of declining because they are found in such large numbers, which are necessary for proper breeding, and also because of their fragile wetland habitats.  Humans are the main threat for these birds due to either direct misuse of their home lands or from indirect damage such as changing characteristics of the land such as water levels.




Chilean still sitting on egg late Sept 10 (cropped)



  • Hours before hatching, flamingo chicks begin vocalizing within the egg – this establishes a bond with their parents so they can locate each other in a flock of thousands!
Even though it’s late in the season, a couple of our Chilean females are still incubating eggs - as can be seen in the image on the left – taken this afternoon in the warm Autumn sunshine.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

“AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE” – Catherine Gould – Keeper-for-a-Day

Catherine feeding at lower lake (2) resized

Catherine Gould feeding at lower lake (3) resized

Catherine Gould was treated to being a Keeper-for-a-Day with us today! Catherine’s parents told me that she’s been visiting the Park regularly since she was 18 months old! It’s always been one of her favourite places.

As a Front-of-House Manager in the Hotel industry Catherine has enjoyed the change close customer interface to a close encounter of the furry and feathered kind! She enjoys all the animals but has a particularly soft spot for the ducks – so I snapped a couple of images of Catherine feeding the wildfowl down at the lower lake earlier this afternoon.

Catherine ended her day with us by saying that it was “an amazing experience” – and by the sparkle in her eye I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that, at some time in the future, Catherine may be back for another Keeper-for-a-Day treat!

Letter of Thanks from Catherine...

Dear All at Seaview Wildlife Encounter,

Just a quick email to say 'thank you' for a wonderful day on Thursday 16th September which I spent with you as a ' Keeper for a Day'. It was a brilliant experience and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it! It was great to have the chance to be so involved with the animals and I would like to thank everyone who was involved, especially Tara, Jules, Craig and Fern for making the day so memorable. I am a regular visitor to the Park so will no doubt be back before the end of the season!

Thank you all once again,

With Kind regards,

Catherine Gould



Andy Hampshire feeding Wallabies (resized)

Andy with Cornelius (resized)

Andy Hampshire arrived at the Park yesterday with no idea of the surprise that his family and girlfriend had organised – to be a Keeper-for-a-Day!   His eyes literally lit up with delight!

Andy is from Greenwich in London and is here on the Isle of Wight on holiday.  He has an office-based job – so really enjoyed having the chance to be outdoors and involved with the animals. 

When I asked Andy for his comments at the end of the day he said that it had been a wonderful experience – one that he would highly recommend for any true animal lover.


Andy & Dippy (3) resized

Madagascar Teal youngsters venture outdoors away from foster ‘Mum’ Kookie


Solent News

Regular followers of our Blog may remember this photo (of Kookie the Kooraburra chick and the tiny Madagascar Teal Duckling) – taken a few weeks ago when the three ducklings were newly hatched and Kookie was 2 weeks old.

Historically we’ve found these rare and endangered ducklings difficult to raise – they’re so tiny when they hatch that they’re extremely vulnerable to being swept away in the stream or being predated (even within the relative safety of the Park).  Therefore we usually remove them from their enclosure and hand-rear them in the warmth and safety of the incubation house.  However, the ‘catch 22’ is that their survival rate is very low without their mother.  So until this miracle relationship occurred they seemed doomed. 

And then came their unplanned encounter with Kookie the Kookaburra chick!  Although naturally predator and prey in the wild, the two very different species formed an unusual bond here at the Park – for the last few weeks they’ve been almost inseparable!  However, over the few days, since they were moved to an semi-open enclosure in pets corner (with a big tray of water) the ducklings have been spending more time on their own doing duck-like things!  Kookie (who turned out to be a male!) has simultaneously been maturing into a fine specimen of a Kookaburra and choosing (naturally) not to partake in the water-borne activities of his duckling friends.

Today was the big day for the ducklings to venture into an outdoor enclosure – with a running stream and lush green grass.  Kookie has been relocated to a beautiful new aviary nearby.  Apparently all parties have taken to this new arrangement very well  - with no signs of separation anxiety or needing any long-term connection!

Madagascar Teal Duckling (resized) 1st day outside

Madagascar Teal (resized) 1st day in outdoor enclosure

Mad Teal out in water (2) resized

Wow – look at me now – the images above, taken this afternoon, show the Madagascar Teal youngsters on the first day in their new outdoor enclosure – enjoying the running water and green grass!


I took the images below late this afternoon – to show the maturing magnificence of Kookie our unique Kookaburra!


Kookie (2) resized 15 Sept 10


Kookie (3) resized 15 Sept 10







Kookie (4) resized 15 Sept 10

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

AL WYMAN – Keeper-for-a-Day – 14 September 2010

Al & Craig feeding Meerkats (resized)

Al Wyman has been a very regular visitor to Seaview Wildlife Encounter over the past few years – so it was a real pleasure to welcome him back yesterday as a Keeper-for-a-Day. Al has retinopathy that has resulted in his being totally blind; additionally he has learning and mobility special needs, he was therefore accompanied by his carer, Tim Taylor. Despite his disabilities, Al has a wonderfully positive approach to life and really enjoys the hands-on interaction with the animals at the Park. Al, Tim and Craig (our Head keeper) spent most of their time together yesterday. Craig’s intention was to allow Al to experience as much as possible through his other senses – with particular emphasis on touch and hearing. Al’s feedback at the end of his day with us was great – he loved being part of the Animal Care Team, being able to touch, feed and be close to so many of the animals.

Al, Craig & young Penguin (resized)

Al Wyman feeding Meerkats (2) resized

Top right image shows Al and Craig feeding the Meerkats

Image above shows Craig (left) and Al stroking a young Penguin

Image right shows a Meerkat with his paws on Al’s hand

September 22nd, 2010 Letter from Al's Mum!

Dear Lorraine,

Thank you so very much to you, Jules, Craig and all the staff at Seaview's unforgettable experience for Al last Tuesday. Everyone whom Al met was extremely kind and caring, he gained such a lot of knowledge (and fun) from the 'real life' experience.

Many many thanks,

Yours sincerely,

Lindy Wyman (Al's Mum)

P.S. I will send some photographs when we get them printed.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Check out our Colony of ever-growing Leaf-Cutter Ants!!


Atta cephalotes

Leaf-cutter ants originate in Central and South America where they live in forests. These industrious ants cut and carry pieces of leaves and flowers, carrying them overhead like huge parasols. The ants take back the leaf pieces to their huge underground nests by following a scent trail they leave behind them. Inside the nest, the leaf pieces are broken down and used for growing fungus. The ants carefully tend this fungus like farmers and feed on it.

Our Head  Keeper, Craig Holmes is really pleased with the progress of our South American Leaf-Cutting Colony – they seem to be thriving!  I’ve attached a couple of images taken earlier this afternoon showing some of the activity – ants carrying supplies of fresh soil/peat and pieces of leaves/vegetation from the feed platform down the rope to their ever-expanding nest – home to their queen!


Leaf-Cutter Ants feeding table (resized) JB Leaf-cuter Ants on rope 1 (JB) (colour-adjusted, resized & cropped)










Image above left shows rope leading from nest to feeding platform.  Image right shows feeding platform and bowl of peaty soil



Leaf-Cutter Ants nest showing fungus (2) cropped & resized

The image immediately above shows the Leaf-Cutter Ants nest – the central, grey area is the fungus that feeds the colony.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Letter of the week

10th September, 2010

Subject: GOOD NEWS - You are a finalist in the Beautiful South Awards for Excellence 2010

Dear Ms Brittan,

I am delighted to inform you that your entry has been shortlisted for The Beautiful South Awards for Excellence 2010 in the 'Best Tourism Experience' category. Congratulations!

You will shortly receive a congratulatory letter from our Chief Executive Mike Bedingfield and your personal invite to an evening of celebration on the 21 October, 2010. I hope that you and your colleagues will be able to attend.

A series of press releases, announcing the shortlist will be dispatched on Tuesday 14 September.

Once again, many congratulations and I look forward to welcoming you to what I am sure will be a memorable evening of celebration at Mercedes-Benz World on Thursday 21 October, 2010.

Kind regards,

Andrew Gostelow,
Head of Communications, Membership & Visitor Services,
Tourism South East.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Wonderful comments from our Visitors Book

""" " What a wonderful day - not stopped smiling since we got here! Thank you" Woolf Family, Northamptonshire.

"Wonderful place, love the interaction with the animals especially the Wallabies". Mrs. Draper, IOW

" A wonderful day well spent, beautiful place and beautiful people. Thank you x

" Best day out loved all of it. The Park is kept so lovely 'Well done' " Avril, Portsmouth

" Best ever hands on experience! Don't understand why more places don't allow you to get up close and personal with such beautiful animals" Reg & Justine, London

Keeper for a day- Danielle Davey

  Danielle Davey, local resident from the Isle of Wight, was given the opportunity to experience ‘being a keeper for a day’ here at Seaview.P1050794P1050774

Although the weather was a little unpredictable, Danielle who normally works for a civil engineering company, put on her rain coat and helped the keepers with their daily tasks including ‘feeding up’ all the ducks and Geese from the lower lake, walking the Alpacas and taming our Californian King Snake!

Danielle appeared to have thoroughly enjoy her day and particularly warmed to the Wallabies and Locke, our friendly Humboldt Penguin….talking of which remind me to do a head count before I leave!


Thursday, 9 September 2010


Despite having very generous visitors who help to feed the many wildfowl (ducks, geese, swans and guinea fowl) at Seaview Wildlife Encounter, the Animal Care Team still feed all the birds every morning and evening. This includes residents and temporary residents – most of the wildfowl are free to come and go as they please (most choose to spend the bulk of their time at the Park where they’re safe and there’s plenty to eat!)

Tara feeding at lower lake Sept 10

I followed Tara Hayter, Head keeper and Education Officer) down to the lower lake yesterday afternoon to make the most of the early Autumn sunshine and capture a couple of ‘feeding frenzy shots’! Tara looked just like the Pied Piper as all the wildfowl followed her down to the lake!

Lower Lake feeding 8 Sept 10 DSC_0590

lower lake feeding time Sept 10

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


Yasmin & Melissa feeding Wallabies (2) resized

Yesterday we had double trouble at the Park – no, not really, we had the pleasure of having twin sisters, Melissa and Yasmin Payne, aged 12, and from Newport, Isle of Wight. The twins were treated to being Keepers for a Day as a belated birthday present from Stephanie, their Mum (who was almost as enthusiastic about the adventures of the day as the girls were! )

Both Melissa and Yasmin said they’d had an awesome day. They both enjoyed the Penguins. Yasmin said her favourite encounter was with the Wallabies, while Melissa took a particular shine to Cornelius the Corn Snake. I managed to snap a couple of images as mementos of their special day.

Yasmin Payne feeding Wallabie (resized)

Melissa Payne with young Penguin (resized) DSC_0495

The image above shows Yasmin having some ‘up-close-and-personal-time with the Wallabies; whilst the image on the left shows Melissa with one of the young Penguins.



BHWT (British Hens Welfare Trust) rescues hens from local battery farms – they’re usually fairly young chickens who have spent the most productive egg-laying months of their lives in cramped cages without natural light, unable to scratch around outdoors and fulfil their natural behaviour.  When battery hens are no longer laying eggs on a daily basis they are usually scheduled for slaughter.  The BHWT endeavours to rescue and re-home as many of these hens as they can – and this time Seaview Wildlife Encounter has taken on three ‘gorgeous girls’ to offer them a new life of freedom at the Park.

Graham, our handsome, resident Rooster (pictured below left) was photographed earlier today checking out the three new arrivals -even though they’re still a bit scruffy from the ordeal of battery life – they are already making their presence known and have been seen strutting their stuff around Pet’s Corner!  The Animal Care Team are watching to see if Graham pairs off with one, or perhaps will polygamously pursue all three!


Three new Hens from BHWT 6 Sept 10 (resized)

Cockerel Graham on new hen's arrival

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Keeper for a day- Maria Snow


Fourteen year old Maria Snow from Wroxall, came to join the Animal Care Team to experience being a keeper for a day.

This was a special treat for Maria before she goes back to High school on Tuesday, and hopefully a memorable one! Maria hopes to work with animals when she leaves school in a few years time so a day with our keepers really gave her an insight into what a keeper’s job is really like!

I just hope she wasn’t put off by the smelly sprats fed to our Penguins or the Meerkat’s tasty wriggly treat!


Thursday, 2 September 2010

DUCK CAUGHT IN THE ACT (outside the kitchen at Seaview Wildlife Encounter!)


It hasn’t gone unnoticed that a certain lady duck has started a new ritual – mornings and evenings she waddles into the passage behind the kitchen at the Park where she has discovered a regular box of bread crusts being put out.  This morning I decided to follow her and catch her in the act of helping herself! 


Duck in passage (resized) DSC_0444 


LEFT: Waddling down the passage way this morning – the female duck that has become a regular visitor to the area outside the kitchen at Seaview Wildlife Encounter.






Duck next to bread crust box (resized)





RIGHT: Hmmmm, there’s the bread crust box, I wonder if anyone will notice if I take a closer look?



I don't 'spose anyone will notice



LEFT: Just as I thought, full of delicious crusts of bread!






Helping herself!




RIGHT: OK, I’ll go right ahead and help myself then!  Thanks to my special friends in catering for leaving these out for me!