Wildlife charity appeals for survival funding

A keeper at Wildwood Escot completes a 'census' of peacocks

A keeper at Wildwood Escot completes a 'census' of peacocks - Credit: Wildwood Trust

East Devon’s Wildwood Escot family attraction is fighting for funds to keep its vital conservation mission alive.

The centre near Ottery St Mary has been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the Wildwood Trust charity that runs it – along with another centre in Kent – has launched a fundraising survival campaign with a target of £475,000.

So far, it has attracted just under £46,000 and desperately needs more donations.

As one of the leading animal conservation charities in the UK, the Trust is dedicated to protecting, conserving and rewilding Britain’s wildlife. It has taken part in many ground-breaking conservation programmes, which include saving the water vole, bringing the extinct European beaver back to Britain and returning the hazel dormouse and red squirrel to areas where they have become extinct.

But lockdown has dramatically reduced the charity’s revenue because parks like Escot have been forced to close. So it is now appealing for animal lovers to dig deep and make a contribution.

The charity’s Julia Bayer told the Herald: “The appeal is still running but progressing slowly. Of course, everyone is hard pushed these days. 
“We get by but we still have lots of staff furloughed and some we have had to say goodbye to.

“For the trust, across the parks in Devon and Kent, being closed costs us over £200,000 a month, so we quite desperately need to reopen to generate some revenue. 

Covid has pushed back many conservation projects, with animals not able to be reintroduced to the wild (as part of a conservation programme) and projects such as building breeding enclosures for wild cats being pushed back till spring. It's very frustrating to postpone these things, when you know the current state of wildlife in the UK and how much we need to work to bring it back – in many cases from the brink.”

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Wildwood Escot runs an important red squirrel conservation breeding programme as part of a national effort to increase numbers of the iconic animal, which is classified as endangered in Great Britain.

To make a donation to the Wildwood Trust charity you can visit www.wildwoodtrust.org

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