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Merry Christmas, and beyond

img_246195What a year its been! .. changes to make many of us think  – What IS the World coming to.

Well, maybe it is coming to fulfil its natural progression.

Whilst celebrating my Birthday in the heart of Manchester last week, amid the bustling city life that now prepares for Christmas and the intense urban environment that I usually do my best to stay clear of, a good friend reminded me that just as other animals create their home and shape their environment to suit, we humans are no different: The technology, the ‘advanced’ way we live our lives in the man-made environment we have created, is no different. He asked me what the difference was between ‘man made’ and ‘natural’? A good question seeing that we are animals. Maybe its the child-grown zoologist in me that doesn’t let me separate humans and animals so easily, but I think recognising that connection is something that can really help give things perspective: it can help aid an understanding, forgiveness, huge appreciation, and a deep care for what we hold dear.

Truth is, we humans are the worst thing ever for the planet, where all life has a right to live. Sadly, we cannot help ourselves. We are only human after all, as the song goes. If the way we think, treat each other, is simply based on what we experience and our human traits then why are we so surprised that our world is evolving as it is..

photo36Humans feature in but a very short chapter in the history of the world. As a new year unfolds, let us all hope it brings with it a greater understanding between people, different cultures, and also a fuller appreciation of the other wonders of nature we share our precious time with on this planet. It is still a beautiful world.

2017 … Bring it on!

With all best wishes,

Andrew x

Reaseheath realised

Over the past couple of weeks I have been visiting Reaseheath College in Nantwich, and yesterday I was there again to meet staff and conduct a talk for students belonging to their Herpetological Society. We have been developing links with Reaseheath for several years now, providing student talks on amphibian and reptile husbandry, supporting student placements in the vivarium, and providing work experience opportunities whenever we can. Currently we also have a valued student from the college, Luke Hartley, who volunteers with us in the vivarium each week.

college-logoAlthough I had heard many good things about Reaseheath I had never previously visited to actually see the facilities for myself. However, after receiving a kind invitation from Joe Chattell, one of their highly experienced animal keepers, I jumped at the chance to visit their School of Animal Management recently and was so  impressed with what I found. I soon realised it is a fabulous place with first rate animal facilities and quality teaching staff.

Reaseheath College was actually the first college in the UK to obtain a zoo licence and it currently houses around between 150-200 species of animals including Lemur species, serval, tapir, kestrel, black cheek love birds together with an extensive collection of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates that include corals.
They have won awards from both BIAZA and the blue cross for conservation and animal welfare efforts and I have to say that I can certainly see why.

copperYesterday I visited with Adam and we got a full tour of all the animal facilities, including seeing the great new developments that are taking place in preparation for even more species. As well as meeting Joe and other highly committed keepers we also got the opportunity to meet with Simon Maddock, who we are developing a collaboration with at the moment in relation to amphibian DNA research. Simon has been working with species from the Seychelles and researching some extremely interesting aspects of amphibian development. We also met with Lauren Lane again, the Animal Collection Deputy Head Keeper who oversees much of what we saw yesterday – A busy place with over 600 students and 50 teaching staff in the Animal Management section alone!

It was clear that the Reaseheath Zoo staff work tirelessly to provide up to date training and facilities for all their students and external delegates, keeping the animal’s welfare at heart. Lauren echoes the keeper’s and teaching staffs efforts – “We really do value each and every animal. I’m also super proud of what my staff and students achieve. Working in a facility where you deal with nearly 700 students training, where very little ever goes wrong and so much is achieved, is incredible given the sheer numbers we deal with. This is all credit to our staff

katydid1It was a real pleasure to visit Reaseheath College and we are very grateful to the staff taking time out to spend with us. We look forward to developing further links in an effort to support student learning and animal welfare in partnership with Reaseheath. Many thanks again to Joe and all the team.

Reaseheath College offers courses from level 1 all the way up to Zoo Management Degrees: Animal Science degree courses

Reaseheath Zoo is open to the public at certain times throughout the year: Reaseheath College Facebook

Simon Maddock highlights research        Andrew Gray with Reaseheath tapir