Conservation at Drusillas
Drusillas Zoo Park was one of the earliest zoos to open in the UK and was established in the 1920s. Today we are recognised as one of the very best small zoos in the UK and currently have some 800 animals and nearly 100 species. We are members of BIAZA (The British Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and EAZA (The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums). Our keepers and our management team work to high ethical standards to ensure Drusillas remains one of the best zoos in the country both for visitors and for our animals.
Many of the animals at Drusillas are involved in breeding programmes, often monitored by studbook keepers, to ensure the future survival of a species.
Primates in particular are a cause for concern. A large number of primate species are seriously threatened with extinction in the wild. There are many reasons for this including forest clearance and illegal hunting to supply the bush meat trade. Zoos and other animal collections help primate conservation, both through education and by captive breeding programmes.
For many animal species, there will be a studbook keeper tasked by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) to monitor captive populations throughout Europe. Drusillas holds the studbook for rockhopper penguins and capybara.
Studbook keepers collect data on animals held in collections, and enter it into a studbook. This information includes details on which animal is related to which and monitors all the births, deaths and movements of animals between collections.
As a studbook holder, Drusillas produces husbandry guidelines and offers advice to other zoos on how
rockhopper penguins and capybara should be kept.
Drusillas is also responsible for co-ordinating the movement of
both species on a European scale, to take part in breeding
programmes. Drusillas Zoo Manager, Sue Woodgate also acts
as a consultant to other zoos who keep these animals.
Drusillas has been recognised by the International Species Information System (ISIS) for its high level of data accuracy. Animal records are important to animal collections; they are a bit like the records that doctors keep on humans. ISIS maintains the information provided by the zoological community on an international scale, so its members can track the movement of an animal along with its genetic background. Drusillas falls into the top 5% of all zoos worldwide that use the animal record keeping system for their high level of data precision.
Keeper Training and Studies
In order that we can ensure our animals receive the best care, keeper training is paramount at Drusillas, both in-house and through external courses. Most keepers study the Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals which allows them to gain a broader understanding of how zoos work and improves their knowledge of animal care, husbandry diets, enclosure design and enable them to carry out research into areas that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to explore.
Drusillas Zoo Keepers and external students also undertake research at the Park, which is used by other zoos and can sometimes be published. For example, Keeper Abby Baird studied the interaction between two groups of squirrel
monkeys, following the introduction of ten new monkeys
to Squirrel Monkey Island. Her observations were
published in the zoo keeping journal RATEL and are used by
other zoos planning to integrate squirrel monkey groups.
The Discovery Centre
The importance of conservation is highlighted at Drusillas in the Discovery Centre. At weekends and during school holidays, Drusillas volunteers bring out an array of animal artefacts for visitors to see and touch. Many of the artefacts come from endangered species and are on loan from HM Revenue & Customs, so they can be used to raise awareness and educate. These artefacts are also used in some education sessions for school groups.
Since 1996, we have raised over £59,204 to help support wildlife and education programmes in Kenya. Re-launched in 2010, the Drusillas in Africa project provides grants for young Maasai students to obtain a formal qualification in Nature Conservation, which can be used to support them in research work into endangered species such as the Grevy’s zebra. We are currently supporting 25 year old Kenyan student Lizbeth Njeri Mate to undertake a Masters Degree and will assist Conservation projects in the region.
Brazilian Golden Lion Tamarin Fund
The Golden Lion Tamarin Fund raises money towards research being carried out in Brazil for these endangered primates. The research is fundamental in conserving these beautifully bright tamarins and we are proud to have raised over £12,711. so far. These funds go towards securing and protecting areas of forest and sponsoring local conservationists in Brazil.
Falkland Island Penguin Appeal
Drusillas supports the Falkland Island Penguin Appeal. This appeal supports fieldwork which monitors penguin species on the island and to date we’ve raised over £10,702. The fieldwork involves analysing numbers and breeding sucess. Habitat destruction is of great concern and the charity works with Governments to secure safe nesting areas for the birds.