Our London West depot takes a walk on the wild side
13 September 2017
Residents of Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury will have plenty of tasty treats and things to keep them occupied this winter, thanks in part to a team of SGN volunteers.
Five volunteers from our London West depot spent a busy morning at the Park, stripping willow branches and packing the leaves away to be frozen. They will be fed to the animals in the winter when the trees are bare.
Rather than throw away the leftover willow branches, the team spent the afternoon weaving them into baskets to be given to the macaque monkeys. The monkeys’ keeper hides edible treats in the baskets for the monkeys to find, which keeps their minds active and stops them from getting bored.
Howletts Wild Animal Park is set in 90 acres of ancient parkland. Set up as a private collection in 1957, the park was opened to the public in 1975 and has since earned a reputation for its commitment to the conservation, breeding and re-introduction of rare and endangered animals.
The volunteers offered their support to the Park as part of our Community Action Programme, in which every employee is given one day each year to help out in the community.
Maintenance Administration Assistant Caroline Baxter explained what prompted her team to ask about volunteering at the park: “Some of our colleagues helped paint the elephant enclosure here last summer and enjoyed their day so much we thought we’d see whether they needed any more help.
“Although it was hard work, we had an amazing time! The highlight for me was getting to feed some of the primates after lunch. First we fed the Gelada baboons – they were really cool-looking, but we could only feed them through the bars of their enclosure as they have rather sharp teeth! Then we fed the lemurs, which jumped all over us trying to be the first one to get to the food.”
Our Maintenance Admin Assistant Caroline feeds the lemurs
Adrian Harland, Animal Director at Howletts Wild Animal Park said: “We’re very grateful to the SGN team for helping us collect leaves for the winter and also make enrichment items to amuse our primates. Enrichment is vital to help keep our animals active, stimulated and interested. The lion-tailed macaques really enjoyed their willow baskets and continued playing with them even after all the treats had been eaten!”