The Bug Garden
The entrance to our Bug Garden is situated between the parrot aviaries, so you get the sense of being in a secret little garden when you are in there. This area itself is split into two sections- an outside area filled with giant models of invertebrates found here in the UK and an inside area which is home to our real invertebrates and the white-clawed crayfish hatchery.
The outside area
The gardens tend to be a very peaceful area of the park with lovely, planted areas throughout, designed to attract local wildlife and to inspire visitors to create similar areas in their own gardens. In the summer especially this is a beautiful area filled with vibrant flowers which attract lots of important pollinators including butterflies and bees whilst birds also love this area and can often be spotted making the most of the baths and abundance of space for finding their own tasty food.
There are also examples of other ways to help wildlife in your very own gardens with hedgehog houses, bat boxes, bug hotels, bird feeders, nest boxes and hedgehog highways. Additionally, our dedicated gardener grows lots of seasonal fruit and vegetables in this area which we can feed out to our animals.
Our bird keepers record all the birds they spot here at WWP and they write them up on a board in the Bug Gardens so visitors can see for themselves the variety of species they may also spot if they provide them with the right encouragement in the their own outside spaces. This area really aims to educate visitors about our own native species are and how important they are to their respective ecosystems.
The Inside area
The inside area however, is where we care for our invertebrates with more than 45 species calling this area home including varieties of tarantulas, beetles, crabs, ants, shrimps and leeches to name but a few!
It is also where you will find our crayfish hatchery, as I mentioned earlier. This is a really important area and a project we are very proud to be a part of.
The white-clawed crayfish is the only native species of crayfish here in the UK but they are under threat and now listed as an endangered species. We have a range of bio-security measures in place to help us protect them in captivity which involve having specialist foot dips, separate equipment and only allowing trained staff within the crayfish area of the building.
The project itself consists of collecting pregnant females from the wild and housing them as they give birth. The young are then collected to be temporarily cared for in captivity by us. After this, females are safely released back into their native habitats. The young are cared for at WWP, protected from disease and predation. We continue to raise the young crayfish in our hatchery until they have grown enough to be released back into safe spaces in the wild. Threats to crayfish are highest during their first year after hatching. Therefore, this type of conservation hopes to eliminate some of this risk to the young ensuring more make into adulthood to also be able to thrive and hopefully breed in the future.
Through this project we have already been able to release hundreds of white-clawed crayfish back into the wild, dramatically boosting their numbers and therefore their species chances too.
This project won Bronze in the BIAZA Exhibits category in 2023.