West Midland Safari Park Q&A
Calling all animal lovers! Based in Bewdley, West Midland Safari Park is home to an array of incredible wildlife from around the world, from lions to insects and everything in between.
As well as being a great attraction to visit with friends and family, the Park also undertakes important and internationally recognised research into many of the animals that live there.
We were super excited to hear about the Park’s involvement in a breeding programme to help protect rhinos from becoming endangered. Find out more below!
1. What is the innovation behind West Midlands Safari Park?
West Midland Safari Park (WMSP) is home to a ‘crash’ of southern white rhinos, which are part of a European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). This is a collaboration between hundreds of European zoos to ensure the long-term survival of endangered species.
Staff at West Midland Safari Park have been busy behind the scenes, working hard to make an impact on the conservation of rhinos, which includes an important research paper and lots of fundraising.
In March 2016, the Park celebrated their first white rhino birth for ten years. The male calf, Ekozu, has since enjoyed four years at the Midlands attraction, but in July 2020, staff said an emotional farewell to rhino as he left the Park for a new life at a safari park in Germany.
2. What is the positive impact?
The birth and move of Ekozu have been particularly important for Sarah Smith, the Park’s Veterinary Nurse, who has taken part in some key research and co-authored an important paper on the parturition (the act of giving birth) of rhinos in zoological settings.
Dr Robert Hermes, a veterinarian researcher at the Leibniz-Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, has worked closely with the Park with several of their species, as an internationally recognised expert of wildlife reproduction.
West Midland Safari Park has also been involved in a partnership with Save the Rhino International (SRI), alongside other zoos, to raise a phenomenal £179,968 to support rhino conservation efforts across Africa and Asia.
Crucial funds raised by SRI, the Park and other partners, helped build extra enclosures and improve facilities, doubling the space available to breed this ‘Critically Endangered’ species (fewer than 80 individuals remain), and ensuring the highest standards of care, to help grow the population of an animal that without action, could become extinct.
3. What knowledge has been gained from this?
Breeding overall is exceptionally important for the future of the rhino as a species, not only to increase numbers, but to also protect the breeding females alongside recognising and understanding any difficulties they may face during the whole process of pregnancy and parturition.
This research has helped us identify different situations that arise in varying cases and given us an insight into how best to deal with them. We are extremely lucky to have a successful breeding programme and are grateful to be able to be part of the research and future of the species.
4. How can people find out more?
The full report from can be found here: https://www.savetherhino.org/impact/working-together-to-save-rhinos/
Watch the first episode of The Winn Show, featuring West Midlands Safari Park here: https://youtu.be/EP46RA-hojQ
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