Latest news from Noah's Ark zoo farm near Clevedon

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By Prue_Reid | Monday, November 05, 2012, 12:56

Building began on a 20 acre elephant habitat at Noah's Ark zoo farm near Clevedon this autumn.

The focus is on long term environmental sustainability in line with the zoo farm's award-winning green credentials.

The North Somerset zoo was recognised with the national silver award in the Green Tourism Business Scheme in 2011 and has designed Elephant Eden to rely almost completely on renewable energy to supply its requirements.

The 80,000 m² complex for Asian elephants is being built as an extension to the zoo farm with permission within its Green Belt site and will be finished to appear visually unobtrusive, while being secure enough to deal with a growing herd of elephants.

Construction work began early in September this year and is expected to finish next spring, before officially opening later in the year.

A new purpose-built 1100 m² elephant house will be green-clad and dug half-way into the ground to be in keeping with the sustainable vision for the new habitat and includes solar roof panels to provide renewable electricity for the complex. 

Solar energy will be used to power automated feeding hoists for the elephants, giving them enriched food day and night encouraging natural feeding behaviours. 

An integrated CCTV system and electric gates within the building will also link to the solar system.

To keep the elephants warm in their new home, biomass heaters will burn and recycle waste chippings to supply heat for a radiator system within the indoor pens and sand yards.

Noah's Ark zoo farm has had success previously with energy reduction and innovation, installing a 50ft wind turbine to supply the site and building a Big Cat Sanctuary which relies on sustainable water harvesting in 2009.

Continuing the environmentally-friendly theme, much of the food needed for each 3 tonne elephant is being grown on site at the zoo, with 12 acres of woodland already cultivated to provide daily tree branches as browse, a staple part of an elephant's diet in the wild.

Hay and haylage will also come from the working farm at Noah's Ark, reducing transport costs associated with bringing feed in from other suppliers.

With a love of water and bathing, Asian elephants will have a deep bathing pool in their enclosure and a plentiful supply of water from harvesting systems built into the habitat – rainwater will be collected from the wide roof of the elephant house and stored in reservoirs. 

Waste water from the enclosure will be filtered and cleaned naturally through a special reed bed treatment system, producing recycled water to be used again. 

Elephant Eden is designed to offer welfare improvements to elephants already living in captivity and could become home to zoo and rescue elephants from Europe which would benefit from a new start in a large, enriched environment. 

The vast outdoor habitat will be heavily enriched to encourage walking and activity, varied feeding, bathing and social interaction.

The zoo farm will begin with a small group of Asian elephants and allow time for the animals and newly appointed keepers to settle in before expanding the herd in future seasons.

The new exhibit will open in 2013 and includes unique public viewing areas inside the elephant house and at outdoor stations and visitor platforms.  

Visitors to Noah's Are are able to watch the progress of the building work from viewpoints near the Big Cat Sanctuary – the new elephant house will be erected in December by contractors who have been prefabricating the structure since September at a factory in Wales.

The zoo farm has seen a busy October Half Term, with visitors taking part in a range of fun activities, including an educational zoo trail and themed pumpkin enrichment demonstrations with the animals for Halloween. 

The popular Christmas nativity plays return again this December at Noah's Ark, with two different interpretations on Saturdays, December 8 and 15 for families to attend. 

Noah's Ark is  open Monday-Saturday from 10.30am-5pm until Saturday, December 15 and reopens afterthe winter break early in February 2013.

For more information about the animals, entry prices and events at Noah's Ark click HERE or phone 01275 852606.

There are now more than 100 sorts of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates at Noah's Ark, including several important species classified as 'endangered' to 'vulnerable' on the IUCN Red List. 

These include cotton topped tamarins (critically endangered), black and white ruffed lemurs (critically endangered), white rhinos (near threatened), Brazilian tapirs (vulnerable) and Siamang gibbons (endangered).

Elephant Eden was officially launched to the public in September 2011 with the help of former MP and celebrity television star Ann Widdecombe.

Noah's Ark which was begun by farmer Anthony Bush and his artisit wife Christina om 1999 and attracts more than 135,000 visitors each year.

It is home to lions, giraffe, zebras, rhinos, tigers and gibbons.

As well as the longest hedge maze in the world, visitors can enjoy huge indoor and outdoor adventure playgrounds. 



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