Page 47

“Yes, we are a tourist attraction, but underpinning everything we do is a concern for animal welfare.” There was a mass of bureaucracy to get through before the rescue was even possible and the team were still building the last of the fences on the seven-acre enclosure on the day the 13 lions, including two eight-month-old cubs, Dani and Simba, were flown over from Budapest in February 2010. “When they arrived, they were in a bad way,” says Simon Marsh, the park’s animal collections manager. “They had been kept in such poor conditions that they had ulcers on their paws, they needed a specialist dentist and no one could be sure how they would adapt to their new home. However, it was amazing to see how quickly they improved and how easily they settled in. They are incredibly resilient and they soon began to thrive. “Since then we have rescued numerous other animals, but the lions will always be special as it was the first time we really made a difference on a major scale. The world was

watching and it really demonstrated what we were about. “Yes, we are a tourist attraction, but underpinning everything we do is a concern for animal welfare.” Since the arrival of those lions, YWP has established an international reputation for its conservation work and breeding programmes. Now home to 400 animals, from armadillos to zebras, it is known the world over for its expertise and 2014 represented another landmark when the park opened one of the world’s largest polar bear reserves. “Isn’t he beautiful,” says Kim Wilkins as Victor, who was the first of the park’s four bears to arrive, strides across a reserve the size of eight football pitches. “Doncaster might not be the Arctic, but what people don’t realise is that in their native habitat polar bears spend long periods of time throughout the year on ground like this rather than on snow and ice, plus summer temperatures in the Arctic tundra can get quite high.”


Profile for Welcome to Yorkshire

This is Y Magazine 2019  

This is Y Magazine 2019