Newquay Zoo’s conservation projects work to protect many incredible species both in the UK and overseas, such as the Critically Endangered Sulawesi crested black macaque or the Owston’s civet. After all, the vision of Wild Planet Trust (the parent charity of Newquay Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts) is ‘A world rich in wildlife in wild places’.

However, zoos are largely green places themselves and act as important habitats for native flora and fauna. Conservation can begin at home. That’s why Newquay Zoo staff, volunteers and students recently conducted a number of small mammal and bat surveys to find out more about these obscure (and often nocturnal) species in the zoo.

The surveys

Led by Dr. Mark Harrison, Newquay Zoo’s Higher Education Coordinator, the team started off with small mammal surveys. They set up 12 Longworth traps across the site each evening for two consecutive days. The traps were furnished with bedding and fresh food so that anything caught would be OK through the night. Each morning the traps were checked, animals caught were identified and then released back into the zoo to go about their day.

The team also carried out a 1.5-hour-long bat survey across site. Conducted one evening following sunset, the team used specialized bat detectors to convert inaudible high pitched bat calls into sounds that could be heard and sonograms that could be seen. From this it was then possible for the team to identify the species.

The results

Across the two days a total of 6 wood mice and 6 bank voles were identified (we can’t be sure whether any of these were caught twice). The northern half of the zoo towards the Savannah and Tarzan Trail seemed to be most popular with bank voles; more in-depth surveys would need to be conducted to confirm this.

The results of the bat survey identified a high abundance of pipistrelle bats, also concentrated in the northern half of the zoo. This was especially apparent near the Philippine spotted deer exhibit - as a section of their enclosure holds water,it may be that this is great for insects and thus bats! No other species were detected in this survey, however as it was relatively short we would expect to find more if we surveyed later into the evening.

This is just a sneaky peak into some of the Wild at Home projects that we are involved in and a small part of a broader package of work we have planned over the summer, so watch this space. To find out more about our conservation projects, please visit Wild Planet Trust website here.

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