The Department aims to provide a Park where people can connect to nature, set in a picturesque setting. The Park is there for people to connect, marvel and learn about different species. It is there for the community and visiting tourists.
Name of organisation: Isle of Man Government
Funding support: Paying visitors and The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture
Number of staff: 15 FTE
Number of visitors per year: 55,000
Overall aims of the centre
The Park are members of BIAZA (British and Irish association 0f Zoos and Aquaria) and EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria), to contribute to national and international conservation of endangered animal species and, by involvement in breeding programs and formal and informal education and to promote throughout the Park, the ethos of conservation and environmental awareness.
There are about 55,000 annual visitors. The Curraghs Wildlife Park is operated as a paying visitor attraction.
Description of the centre
25 acres of the Park contain c.83 species from around the world. Many are wetland species, in walkthrough enclosures or mixed exhibits with a conservation or zoogeographic theme.
There is also a diversification from the wetland theme with favourites such as Meerkats, Gibbons, Porcupines and other species not associated with wetlands so as to fulfil visitor interest and breeding programs of EAZA. 15 acres of the Park has remained undeveloped with the exception of a boarded walkway called the ‘Nature Trail’ to view displays of variety of habitats from bog / fen, willow carr, Molinia grassland and open water peat diggings to semi-natural birch woodland colonising hay meadows. Interpretation explains the ecology and land use history of the area along the trail.
This area is a Ramsar site so has international recognition as an important wetland. The Park has a café with full menu, gift shop, indoor soft play, two fabulous outdoor play areas with different themes as well as the Giant Jumping Pillow which is a huge favourite with all ages. The miniature railway is perhaps the most popular recreational activity that delights young and old. With many play areas added in recent years, the Park is an excellent family day out but can be enjoyed by adults of any age.
Main CEPA work areas
The Wildlife Park employs a full time Education Officer, Mrs Liz Brunswick, who runs programmes designed for use with the National Curriculum (UK) and will tailor talks to a teacher’s specific requirements. See http://www.curraghswildlifepark.im/education/
Informal (general public) learning
The ‘What’s On’ program runs in peak periods and is carried out by the volunteer discovery team.
Top three successes
Breeding of endangered species such as the only wetland primate and critically endangered Gentle lemur.
Developing and growing into probably the best Family attraction in the Isle of Man.
Involving the community in volunteering and offering placements for people to use and grow their skills.
Top three challenges
Developing in a sensitive manner to the natural environment.
Physical restrictions of being on ‘boggy’ ground.
Providing a modern experience with the resources available.
Creating signage; site information; Producing written materials; Developing nature trails
Setting up a new visitor centre; Managing / creating habitat; Running a visitor centre; Building / maintaining structures
Engaging young people; Engaging the local community, Working with volunteers
Education and communication
Early years education; Delivering adult education; Developing resources / materials
PR and marketing; Running effective administration; Fund-raising; Project planning.