It’s been a busy year for West Midland Safari Park, who have celebrated lots of new births in 2017.
From a playful rhino to a teeny tiny pancake tortoise, these adorable animals have been lucky enough to have been given some festive treats from Park staff over the Christmas period.
First to receive their present was Rothschild giraffe calf Fennessy, who was one of the first babies of 2017 born on 14th January. Along with mum, Arusha, and the rest of the herd, his dedicated keeper Becky Nock was delighted to feed him lucerne, their favourite forage, from a huge Christmas stocking. Once the giraffe were used to the stocking, the little calf was delighted with his special treat!
Next on the list was the Humboldt penguins and their four newest additions - Fee, Fi, Frodo and Fum. Keepers were determined to wish the penguins a ‘Merry Fish-mas’, and gave the colony their favourite fishy treat in little gift boxes, complete with wrapping paper and decorative ribbon. Frodo was particularly excited about his first Christmas and took the lead in eating the fish. His other siblings eventually followed and tucked in to their scrumptious sprats.
Pancake tortoise Finn, who was an internet sensation during the summer, was lucky enough to have his very own sprout for his Christmas dinner. The teeny tortoise was dwarfed by the giant vegetable, but he happily chomped away and proved that sprouts are indeed delicious. Although Finn is now bigger than a 50 pence coin which was the same size as him at birth, he is still tiny in comparison to his sprout. Yet that didn’t stop him from trying to manoeuvre the sprout to get to the tastiest part.
Finally, southern white rhino Fahari, the youngest of the Park’s babies, was given a brand new toy for her first Christmas. At three months old, Fahari is still reliant upon her mum’s milk, so instead of a tasty treat she received a gigantic papier mâché Christmas pudding. The youngster has been making a big impression on the safari and didn’t disappoint onlookers when she playfully nudged her new toy. Even mum, Keyah, joined in with the fun by charging straight at the pudding and squashing it with her huge horn!
Head of Wildlife, Angela Potter, said, “We have enjoyed seeing all our 2017 babies growing and thriving throughout the year. Each birth is a result of careful planning and the dedication of our skilled wildlife team."
She continued, “Our breeding success helps the future of many of the species in our care and it is one of the best parts of the job to see these healthy youngsters doing so well and joining in with the Christmas festivities.”
The giraffe, penguin, pancake tortoise and Southern white rhino are all at risk in the wild and successful births are vital to continue the healthy populations of these amazing animals. All four species are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EESP), which aims to conserve and protect animals under threat from a variety of issues, such as habitat loss.
Each year, the Park chooses a different letter to name all of the new animals born. The letter ‘F’ was chosen for 2017 and meant that keepers had to be quite inventive with the names they chose.
Whilst the severe weather conditions linger, keepers take extra care to look after the animals by ensuring they are warm and comfortable in their enclosures and with plenty of food. Most species choose to stay inside, especially the younger animals born this year.
Christmas Day is like any other working day for the keepers, who keep it business as usual on the big day. They wish their animal family a merry Christmas and give them an extra special Christmas lunch, while continuing with regular daily husbandry tasks.
The animal babies can be seen in the Discovery Trail and four-mile safari, which is included in the standard winter admission charge of £20.00 for adults, £15.00 for children aged 3-15 and £18.00 for concessions. Admission includes a voucher for a return visit or safari gift. The Adventure Theme Park is closed and Santa Safari is charged extra.