This week I have been spending time at BCA (formerly the Berkshire College of Agriculture), near Maidstone/Henley on Themes. Here I presented talks for the HE students on amphibian conservation after being invited down by Animal Centre Manager Calvin Allen (pictured right). Calvin is very passionate about animals, and about ensuring people keep them properly. Through his interest in animal conservation, BCA are now working collaboratively with us on Project Lemur Frog.
Since Calvin has been in charge of BCA’s animal centre it has taken strides forward in offering their learners the opportunity to work closely with a wide variety of unusual species, and students also now get the opportunity to gain a proper understanding of animal conservation and the importance of conducting conservation-related studies. With this in mind, the animal centre has recently developed links across the UK to help support various projects that are helping conserve species including the Scottish Wildcat, Red Squirrel, and more recently the Lemur Leaf Frog.
I have to say that I was extremely impressed with the level of animal husbandry being provided at BCA and particularly the attitude of their staff to the health and welfare of the animals. None more so than Nicola Mumford, BCA’s Senior Exotics House Technician.
Apart from seeing their Elephant Shrews (which look like Scrat from Ice Age! :), a highlight of my visit was seeing the Exotics House, which has been specially designed by Calvin to allow students the experience of working within different animal husbandry settings. Here, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates are housed and displayed as if to the public, with large beautifully landscaped exhibits allowing the animals to thrive and students the opportunity to spend time observing them properly.
Behind the scenes they also have rooms that are dedicated to teaching students about invertebrates, amphibians and other smaller reptiles. These superb facilities have been instrumental in facilitating the centre’s breeding successes with several species, such as the Fire Skinks (Riopa fernando), which are commonly imported from the wild but rarely captive bred. The amphibian room also houses species such as Surinam Toad (Pipa pipa), various poison frogs, and now rare tree frogs.
I would sincerely like to thank Calvin and BCA for their collaborative support with Project Lemur Frog and to say what a pleasure it was to present my subject to the staff and students of BCA this week, I hope they enjoyed it too.
Here is a video clip of Calvin showing some of the Exotics House facilities:
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