During 2014, we are celebrating 30 years of bringing customers from the UK to the Channel Islands. As part of this celebration, we will be writing about 30 Jersey essentials, from attractions and outdoor activities to special local food and some lesser-known island treats.
Part 1: A visit to the world-renowned Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
When Gerald Durrell established the Jersey Zoo and then the “Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust” back in 1963, his focus was on animals and their worldwide welfare. A few decades on and he would undoubtedly be immensely proud of what he has started. Beyond the continuous work done towards endangered species, The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, as it is now known, is a fantastic park ideal for an exciting day out, discovering very small and much larger animals, having a picnic on the lawn, or indulging in some great food at the Café Firefly .
Great Day Out
Start your day by planning who you want to meet!
A typical day will consist of regular meals for the animals, and it is well worth trying to be there at feeding times as some species can be hard to spot in their large enclosures. The excitement of gazing into the eyes of a Gorilla (scientific name: Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla…) or a Slender-tailed meerkat is always top of the list, but do take time to observe the Mountain chicken which is in fact a frog, or to share the excitement that Quechua the South American Andean bear created when he arrived last October.
The park itself is a joy to walk through. The well kept lawns provide a perfect blanket on sunny days for a picnic, and many hidden paths are there for your personal exploration. Get lost a bit to be surprised by a flock of Chilean flamingos or maybe the elusive Maned wolf.
Children will simply love their own dedicated enclosure complete with ropes to climb and Dodos to ride, a perfect way to let parents rest their feet while the kids imitate the great skills of the orangutan…
Behind the Scenes
Referred to simply as Durrell by local residents, the Trust’s main mission is famously to ‘save species from extinction’.
Hard working, passionate and totally dedicated people work tirelessly behind the scenes to provide animals with enclosures adequate for their well-being and conservation. You can get involved too and become a keeper for a day, experiencing how to care for the animals, or adopt an endangered animal, entitling you to a life-long welcome pack… from a birth certificate to regular updates of their progress!
There is a way to get even closer and more involved and, that is to stay on the site itself.
Two options are available: the amazing Durrell Wildlife Camp, which provides luxury pods equipped with all the modern amenities one requires for an exciting yet glamorous stay. You will be free to roam the park at anytime guaranteeing some special encounters with the local residents when the general public has long gone! Also stay at the Durrell Wildlife Hostel, where one can experience life in a traditional Jersey granite farmhouse.
For all your refreshments while visiting or staying, Cafe firefly is open daily from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm and offers a great selection of freshly cooked snacks, signature dishes, salads and a children’s menu.
The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust is constantly engaging with us all to fulfill its mission. Many events take place throughout the year, some to fundraise and some simply to create a fun environment in which to learn about the animal world and increase our understanding of our own environment. One of January’s events is a bit of both – The 28 Day Paleo Challenge sees Durrell and fitness work hand in hand to alert us to the importance of a natural diet as well as shedding those few extra Christmas pounds.
And Finally …Books
Gerald Durrell also leaves behind an inspiring and often very witty bibliography. His literature will interest and amuse most ages and can be purchased from the lovely shop at the entrance/exit of the site.