Still time to visit Whipsnade Zoo’s sea lions before they go up north

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Whipsnade Zoo’s colony of sea lions recently featured in a TV documentary as they are preparing to move to the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

The six playful animals: male Dominic, 13, and females, Lara, 12, and Bailey, 13, and two-year-old youngsters, Hanno, Oakley and Maui, featured in a two-part ITV documentary that charted behind-the-scenes zoo life.

The colony will be moving in November and they have been in training to get used to their transport crates for the cross-country move from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

They will enjoy life in Yorkshire in a new purpose-built facility which opens in Spring 2021.

Tina Campanella, speaking of Whipsnade’s plans said: “The opportunity to move the sea lions came at the perfect time, as our exhibit is due a significant revamp and, like we do with all of our animals and enclosures, we reviewed our overall plans to make sure we’re caring for the animals that we can do the most for. 

“We’ve decided that there are new animals that really need our help and conservation expertise, while the sea lions will be in the excellent care of the dedicated zookeepers at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.”  

London Zoo (ZSL): An Extraordinary Year, which was broadcast on October 1, it illustrated the efforts of the staff to care for animals during the challenges of the pandemic and re-opening to the public.

Dr Matt Hartley, Head of Animals at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Branton, near Doncaster, said: “We are very excited to welcome the sea lions and have been in close contact with ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to make the journey as smooth and easy as possible.

“It is a relatively short journey, but everyone is focused on making it comfortable for these charismatic animals who I’m sure will be a big hit with our visitors.

“The documentary was fascinating and shows clearly how much love keepers have for their animals and how wonderful the sea lions are.

“The sea lions were be a big hit in the documentary, and we will ensure they have a great, happy home here in Yorkshire.”

Transport arrangements from Bedfordshire to Yorkshire have been meticulously planned with a team of keepers and vets on hand throughout the journey as well as a careful plan to gradually introduce the sea lions to their spacious travel containers.

ZSL Whipsnade sea lion keeper Alex Pinnell (pictured), who features in the documentary, said: “Though we will miss our intelligent and playful colony of sea lions, we’re delighted they will be going to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, who are building an amazing, brand-new exhibit, custom designed for sea lions – it’s also great that they’re moving together as one colony, so will remain a family unit.”

The new facility is part of an expansion which will double the size of the park from its current 150 acres of spacious animal reserves with over 450 animals of over 70 species.

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