It’s spring and love is in the air at New Forest Wildlife Park. Hand-reared rescued Eurasian otter Millie, who has been at the park since 2012 and originally came from Wales, has been getting friendly with a potential new partner.
Eurasian otters can be solitary and Millie has never accepted any partners before, but has gradually been introduced to male otter Franklin over the past few months. Franklin came from the British Wildlife centre in Lingfield, Surrey, and although the pair are not sharing a nest box, signs are promising and keepers are optimistic that love may at last be on the cards.
“We have been witnessing lots of play ‘fighting’ between them and a lot of activity in the water, so there is potential for possible otter cubs in future. It’s very exciting to see them getting on so well and we are keeping our fingers crossed that they remain on good terms,” said Curator Jason Palmer.
Change is also underway in some of the enclosures, with more space being provided for the red deer, European bison, hedgehogs and wild boar. The Tropical Butterfly House is will open on April 8th in time for the Easter school holidays, with scores of beautifully coloured butterflies fluttering among the exotic plants and foliage in a specially constructed hothouse. New pupae are delivered every week from sustainable farms in the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Kenya, Argentina, China, North America and Costa Rica and visitors can watch them hatching out.
There will be other exciting activities taking place at New Forest Wildlife Park over the Easter school holidays too, including an Easter Egg Trail and quiz, animal encounters, keeper talks and animal feeding sessions.
Visitors to New Forest Wildlife Park can see amazing animals in lovely natural enclosures among the trees, including giant otters, North American river otters, Asian short-clawed otters and Eurasian otters. There are red, roe, fallow, muntjac and sika deer as well as Scottish wildcats, European bison, wild boar, wolves, wallabies, lynx, hedgehogs, foxes, mouflon, pine martens, polecats, ferrets, harvest mice, several species of owls and some reptiles.
Set in 25 acres of lovely New Forest woodland, there’s a well-stocked gift shop and restaurant and the ever popular Go Wild Adventure playgrounds, where children and adults of all ages can let off steam on the swings, ropes, zip wires and climbing frames.
New Forest Wildlife Park rescues injured and abandoned wildlife, such as orphaned otters, in association with the RSPCA and is involved in international captive breeding programmes for endangered species, such as the giant otter.
The New Forest Wildlife Park is at Deerleap Lane, Longdown, Marchwood, Southampton, SO41 4UH. Tel 02380 292408. www.newforestwildlifepark.co.uk