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From Down Under to the Great Plains: A Warm Welcome to Our Newest Residents!

28 March 2024

Yesterday marked a very special day as we welcomed some delightful new faces to our park. We’re thrilled to announce the arrival of a mob of parma wallabies and a coterie of black-tailed prairie dogs, both hailing from Five Sisters Zoo. After a swift journey down the M9, they wasted no time settling into their new home.

The prairie dogs have been placed in the enclosure nestled between the habitats of the red ruffed lemurs and the penguins. Meanwhile, the wallabies have moved in with our maras in Lemur Land. Both sets of animals are now on display for the public to see. It’s worth mentioning, however, that the prairie dogs are currently spending much of their time underground, busily constructing the network of burrows that will become their new home.  Watching the daily progress they make on their burrows is truly fascinating!

Our Animal Collection Manager Kristine said, ‘Welcoming new animals into the park is such an exciting venture.  While there’s always a natural adjustment period as they settle in, the initial signs are overwhelmingly positive. Happily, the transfer took less than an hour, thanks to the strong bond shared by the Five Sisters Zookeepers and the animals. This helped minimise any stress during the process.’

Let’s take a closer look at our newest residents:

Parma Wallabies

Originating from New South Wales in Australia, the Parma wallaby holds the title of the smallest among kangaroos and wallabies. Shy and solitary, these nocturnal marsupials favour lush, wet forests where they can seek shelter in dense undergrowth during the day. Once thought to be extinct until 1965, habitat loss due to livestock grazing and bush fires now pose significant threats to their survival. As marsupials, Parma wallabies undergo a unique reproductive process, giving birth to an embryo that develops, is carried, and suckled in the mother’s pouch. At birth, the tiny wallaby babies instinctively crawl up their mother’s belly and into her pouch.

Black-tailed Prairie Dogs

Contrary to their name, prairie dogs are not dogs at all but rather a species of ground squirrel closely related to groundhogs, chipmunks, and marmots. Originally widespread across the Great Plains of North America and the extreme north of Mexico, they reside in tight-knit family groups called “coteries” within vast networks of burrows known as “towns.” Their communication system is intricate, utilising different “barking” sounds to identify various predators, including hawks, owls, eagles, ravens, coyotes, badgers, ferrets, and snakes. Despite their cute appearance, prairie dogs are adept at self-defence, possessing sharp claws and powerful teeth that ensure their survival in the face of danger.

Come say hello!

We’re genuinely excited about our new residents and we’re sure you are too! Why not pop along and say hello on your next visit to the park?

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