Marwell Hall, January 2006
|Location||Owslebury, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom|
|Land area||140 acres (0.57 km2)|
|Number of animals||1707+ (2011)|
|Number of species||188 (2011)|
|Annual visitors||511,000 (2006)|
|Memberships||BIAZA, EAZA, WAZA, IUCN|
|Major exhibits||Tropical World, Roof of the World, Into Africa, Heart of Africa, Life in the Trees|
Marwell Wildlife, formerly known as Marwell Zoological Park, is a 140-acre (0.57 km2) zoo and registered charity situated at Owslebury near Winchester, in the English county of Hampshire. It is home to over 1,200 animals of 235 different species, and in 2007 was voted by Hampshire residents in an online poll as the place they were most proud of.
Beyond the park itself, the charity works for international conservation, with a particular focus in Africa in addition to work from its base in Hampshire. The name of the park was changed from Marwell Zoological Park in 2009 to promote these wider activities.
History of the site before 1972
The zoological park is situated in the estate of Marwell Hall, a Grade I listed building originally built in 1320 by Walter Woodlock and largely rebuilt in 1816 by William Long. In the 1500s, the Hall belonged to the Seymour family, and there is a local tradition that Henry VIII married Lady Jane Seymour there.
Between September 1941 and March 1944, Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft used an area within the estate (owned by the manufacturer's managing director Rex Hoyes) as an airfield to support the manufacture of military aircraft at its nearby factory in Eastleigh. After the end of World War II, the airfield was returned to agricultural use.
The zoo was founded by John Knowles, opening in 1972. It was one of the earliest zoos in Europe to place an emphasis on animal conservation. Within a few years of its establishment, it became an important breeding centre for several species, some (e.g. the Mongolian Wild Horse) already extinct in the wild, others (e.g. the Snow Leopard and Siberian Tiger) close to extinction.
In 1977, a giraffe called Victor tore a muscle in his leg, collapsed on his stomach, and was unable to get up. The press suggested that he had slipped while trying to mate and compared his situation to the splits. All attempts to get him on his feet failed, and his plight became a major international news story. Portsmouth Dockyard made a hoist to attempt to raise him onto his feet. He died of a heart attack very shortly afterward in the arms of his keeper Ruth. The publicity turned Marwell into a major tourist attraction, and interest was revived the following summer, when Victor's mate, Dribbles, gave birth to a female calf named Victoria.
In 1999, the zoo lost all of its penguins (22 African and 5 Macaroni) to avian malaria. There were other cases in the UK but Marwell was the only zoo to lose its entire colony, which had arrived only two and a half years before to stock the new Penguin World exhibit. After consulting with experts, the exhibit was restocked with Humboldt penguins, which whilst endangered in the wild, are present in greater numbers in captivity.
In 2003, after constructing a new enclosure for critically endangered Amur leopards, a female leopard (Jade) escaped and fell from a tree to her death only days before the official opening of the exhibit. Following a replacement after the death of Jade, in 2005 the first cub born to the new Amur leopard pair, Amirah, escaped into the male's enclosure and was killed by her father. On 18 November 2007, a female Amur leopard cub (named Kiska following a public vote) was born as a result of a European Conservation Breeding Programme.
In 2007, the park was voted in an online poll of Hampshire residents as the place they were most proud of.
Both the park and charity changed their name to "Marwell Wildlife" in April 2009, to promote awareness of conservation work beyond the park. The charity had previously been called the Marwell Preservation Trust, and the park had been Marwell Zoological Park.
The zoo's exhibits include:
- 449 mammals of 81 species; including kangaroos, lemurs, tamarins, meerkats, leopards, tigers, cheetahs, snow leopards, zebras and giraffes
- 309 birds of 42 species; including penguins, ostriches, Rheas, ibis and flamingoes
- 61 reptiles of 24 species; tortoises, chameleons and a West African Dwarf Crocodile
- 31 amphibians of seven species; including salamanders and Poison Dart Frogs
- 18 fish of seven species; including catfish and Red-bellied piranha
- 839 invertebrates of 27 species; including Partula Snails, Black Widow Spiders and Leafcutter Ants
In particular, Marwell houses the largest collection of ungulates in a UK zoo, including;
The park includes a number of themed areas, including:
- Into Africa is an African themed exhibit which includes giraffes, sable antelope, porcupines, weaverbirds and Old World monkeys
- Heart of Africa is themed on the Congo rainforests and is home to bongos, Congo buffalo and Lake Malawi cichlids
- Tropical World is a large glass house filled with rainforest creatures including a dwarf crocodile, poison arrow frogs, piranhas, tarantulas, frilled lizards, leafcutter ants and others
- Roof of the World is themed along the Himalayan mountain range and exhibits snow leopards, owls and takins in natural surroundings
- World of Lemurs features a long glass corridor around the lemur enclosures
- Aridlands & Desert Carnivores are home to sand cats, addax, dorcas gazelles, desert locusts and spiny mice
- Encounter Village was refurbished in 2007 and currently includes a walk-through aviary for African birds, Cold Blooded Corner, a reptile house housing rare species' such as Gila Monster and Madagascan Tree Boa, a partula snail unit, chipmunk and lovebird aviaries, a toddler's play area, kiosk, and shop
- Australian Bush Walk is attached to Encounter Village and consists of two walk-through areas. The first part is home to Bennett's wallabies, and the second is an aviary, home to kookaburras and parma wallabies
- Life in the Trees is modelled on an Indonesian rainforest and featuring a traditional long boat house as the centrepiece. This exhibit is home to siamangs, anoa, Asian small-clawed otters, Prevost's Squirrels and treeshrews
- African Valley was opened in 2009 and features Giraffe, Grevy's Zebra, Ostrich and Waterbuck roaming free in 25 acres (0.101 km2) of land centred around a waterhole
- Formal Garden was opened in July 2010, and includes a knot garden, parterre garden and a kitchen garden as well as a self-guided 'tree trail'
There are a number of refreshment facilities around the park, including 'Cafe Graze' serving hot meals and several kiosks serving a selection of snack food.
The Ark Gift Shop is located just inside the entrance to the park.
The main current Marwell Wildlife conservation programmes include Managing biodiversity in Hampshire, Assisting Grevy's Zebra and its ecosystem, in Kenya, Supporting threatened species in Zimbabwe, and Managing the population of small vulnerable populations, and reintroducing the scimitar-horned oryx to the Sahara.
The zoo has been involved in reintroducing wild horse, Golden Lion Tamarin, roan antelope and Scimitar Oryx to the wild . The oryx is extinct in the wild, but more than 200 calves have been born and reared at the zoo since 1972 and many of these were released back to the Sahara with animals from Whipsnade Zoo and Edinburgh Zoo.
The charity also carries out a range of research and education activities.
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- "BIAZA Find a Zoo". biaza.org.uk. British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "EAZA Member Zoos & Aquariums". eaza.net. European Association of Zoos and Aquaria. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Zoos and Aquariums of the World". waza.org. World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Members Database". iucn.org. IUCN. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "About Marwell Hall". www.marwell.org.uk. Marwell Wildlife. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Page, William (1908). A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3. Victoria County History. pp. 332–335.
- "Owslebury". Hampshire County Council. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Wartime secrets of Marwell Hall". Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Marwell Hall Airfield". Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Knowles, John (2009). My Marwellous Life: In Zoos and Conservation. Book Guild Publishing. ISBN 1-84624-365-3.
- "South Today > Tell Tom > 1977 - Victor the giraffe". BBC. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Victor the giraffe. BBC. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "UK penguins struck by avian malaria". BBC News. October 11, 1999. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Rare cub ventures into public eye". BBC News. 28 February 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- "Marwell Zoo voted pick of the poll". citylocal. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "You can call us Marwell Wildlife". Marwell Wildlife. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Gabbatt, Adam (22 May 2011). "White Tiger Toy Scare Causes Hampshire Police Alert". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Marwell Wildlife Animal Inventory 2011". www.marwell.org.uk. Marwell Wildlife. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Marwell Wildlife Penguin Cove". www.marwell.org.uk. Marwell Wildlife. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- "Marwell Wildlife Conservation". www.marwell.org.uk. Marwell Wildlife. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
Media related to Marwell Wildlife at Wikimedia Commons