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For the first time this summer, Giraffes, Eland and Lechwe antelopes, Ostriches and the newly arrived endangered Grevy’s Zebras roam together in a sprawling new reserve.
While the park’s animals cooled off with ice lollies and diving in lakes during the particularly hot days, visitors enjoyed a colourful programme of family events and performances at the UK’s number one walk-through experience.
Every Saturday during August the extremely popular ‘A Night In Africa’ evenings kept the park entertained until 9pm with music, food, acrobats and fire pits and after hours access to some of the world’s most beautiful and rare animals.
Another highlight of the summer was World Lion Day in August which had Coronation Street star Lucy-Jo Hudson drop in at the park to raise awareness for the plight of lions and help fundraising for the YWP Foundation.
The actress, who also played young vet Rosie Trevanion in the TV series Wild at Heart, set in South Africa, is a keen supporter of wildlife project and was keen to get close to the majestic animals in Lion County.
In 1975 there was an estimated 250,000 lions in Africa, yet today the continent wide population stands at a mere 25 – 30,000 individuals This staggering 80-90% decline combines with the fragmentation and isolation of those remaining sub-populations with little long-term viability.
YWP has also held its most unusual event, the sponsored fundraising streak Bare All for Polar Bears which is an annual fun run promoted by British Naturism.
This year, over £6000 was raised in an effort to make aware of the important conservation work the park is doing for Polar Bears.


Participants were either jogging or walking down a ¾ mile course around the wildlife park and runners were baring all…. apart from a polar bear mask and running shoes.
YWP Foundation works closely with Polar Bears International on research and fund-raising projects. The park’s 10-acre Polar Reserve is one of the most advanced enclosures in the world and is home to Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby, who arrived at YWP in February.
Nowadays, Polar Bears are in sharp decline due to climate change, hunting and loss of habitat.
Putting conservation at the heart of its work, YWP is involved in many international breeding programmes, making their reserves an integral part of the survival of many species such as the rare Amur Tigers and Leopards.
With less than only 500 Amur Tigers left in the wild, the Land of the Tiger reserve has contributed enormously to the survival of one of the most fascinating wild cats.
Amur Leopards numbers in the wild have declined even further with currently only around 70 living in the wild. Four of the endangered species are now residing at the park’s Leopard Heights reserve.
The new and dramatically expanded £1.5 African Plains was fully opened this summer after rangers released the Giraffes into their new home.
Meanwhile YWP is charging ahead with plans to help save the critically endangered black rhino
A new rhino house, measuring 16 metres by 35 metres, will become the focal point of the Africa Plains section of the park early next year when two of the species arrive.
It is all part of a £3m improvement scheme, which also added a new outdoor play area, wider paths, a café with 120 covers serving drinks and hot snacks along with two new outlets in the Safari Village shopping area.


The current Safari café was also expanded with new conservatory and kitchen to keep pace with demand.
YWP Director Cheryl Williams said:”I am delighted African Plains is now open. I think even the Giraffes were impressed with the scale of it as they took a few days before they decided they wanted to go into the new reserve!”
She added: “The visitor experience has been vastly improved by this major investment, We are constantly looking at ways to create the best environment for our animals and for the public to enjoy seeing them close-up. The new African Plain safari experience is just another example of this. It is amazing to see the animals roaming together in such a large space”
YWP is a leading centre for animal conservation. Plans are advanced to bring a pair of black rhinos to their new reserve, which will be dedicated to the animals whose numbers have fallen due to illegal poaching and changing habitat.
Their population declined by 96% to less than 3,000 from a devastating period of poaching for their horns which are used to make ornamental crowns, cups and ceremonial daggers as well as for herbal medicine.
One sub-species of black rhino was declared extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2011 but a global conservation programme has helped nurse black rhino numbers to around 5,000.
“These are magnificent animals but they are critically endangered. We want to play our part in ensuring they survive so we have invested in a new area for them, which will open soon,” added Mrs Williams.
The black rhino, which used to be native across wide areas of Africa, can measure 6ft tall at the shoulder and weigh in at 3,000lbs, roughly the same weight as a family estate car
YWP will be only the seventh zoo in the UK to provide a home for the species.
The park, one of the UK’s fastest growing and most innovative attractions, boasts a unique collection of animals including Amur Lions and Tigers, Meerkats, Squirrel Monkeys, Marmosets, Camels and many more.
There is a weather proof Monkey Playbarn for children to enjoy while adults can sit back and relax with a coffee.
Children have the chance to play on three levels with a range of climbing frames, dens, slides and rope bridges and an amazing view over the baboon reserve through a glass wall.
More special days celebrating the park’s conservation work and raising awareness to the plight of animals threatened by extinction include the upcoming World Rhino Day and Russian Tiger and Leopard Day in September as well as World Lemur Day and a fundraising event for World Animal Day in October.
Vist Yorkshire Wildlife Park at;
Yorkshire Wildlife Park,
Warning Tongue Lane,
Branton, Doncaster, DN4 6TB
Telephone: 01302 535057
To win a family ticket to Yorkshire Wildlife Park
please go to the competition page

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