British Wildlife Centre: part 1

In the countryside of Surrey, near the border with Kent, is a small centre which has possibly the finest collection of native species in Britain. The British Wildlife Centre. We had been planning to go for the past two years, but had never gotten round it. But yesterday, we travelled a short way across Surrey, and paid a visit.


The British Wildlife Centre is home to over 40 different native species for visitors to see, and although the majority are captive, they do have a nature reserve section where other wild animals can be seen as well. The centre really gave me a great opportunity to appreciate the brilliant wildlife that we have in our country. We always see the beautiful animals from abroad on our tv screens, but Britain certainly has its fair share of wonderful wildlife.

We started off our walk by heading to the Red Squirrel enclosure. The enclosure is a large area of trees and grass, with an elevated walkway around the edge. The Red Squirrels are very inquisitive, and often came up on the walkway, running between legs and sitting right beside visitors. It was great to see the animals so close, as in the wild they are quite difficult to see and appreciate. They are native to Britain but after the arrival of Grey Squirrels in the 1870s their numbers have fallen dramatically. There are now only 140,000 reds in Britain, compared to 2.5 million greys. But, with the help of numerous conservation efforts, the red squirrels of Britain are making are comeback.

Red Squirrel

There was another animal in the Red Squirrel enclosure feeding alongside the squirrels. It was a Reeve's Muntjac. These mammals aren't technically native to Britain as they were introduced from China in the early 1900s, and after being released deliberately in numerous places, established feral populations. These deer are relatively small, but have lovely markings on their heads, which I never realised they had before.

Muntjac

The centre was also home to many species of owl and bird of prey. I must admit I was slightly disappointed by the size of the cages they were kept in, but birds are always difficult to keep in zoos and centres like this because they can fly. Having these birds at the centre is important as it helps to raise awareness and let people experience Great British birds. My favourite of these birds was actually seen outside of its cage with a keeper. It was an Eagle Owl. These birds just fit under the British birds category, as there are a very small number of these owls breeding in Britain. Their origin in uncertain, but they aren't native, and could have been introduced, although they may have found their way here naturally. Nobody knows.



Thank you for reading the first part of a few blog posts from the British Wildlife Centre. Keep posted for the next instalment!


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