After nearly thirty years of closure and neglect, Westbury Wildlife Park is to reopen in 2021.
The once-loved beauty spot and haven for wildlife is being restored by local residents Jonathan Ashby (known as Jono) and Kira Emslie, plus a team of hard-working volunteers and trustees.
They plan for the wildlife park to be a space for the local community to enjoy nature and to get involved in projects to preserve and protect flora and fauna, as well as a centre for environmental education and a place to nurture creativity.
The plans for the wildlife park also include a forest play area for children, a café and picnic tables.
Its return to the local area will be warmly welcomed by many local people who have felt isolated and suffered emotionally during lockdown, and is sure to be a once-loved space once more.
Last year Kira and Jono launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds to enable the reopening, and by November had reached their first target amount which will cover costs for tools, insurance and ppe for visitors to get involved in its relaunch.
Now they are continuing to fundraise for ongoing management, care and future plans for the park.
There is much work to do in order for the park to reopen and so far, the team have made amazing progress.
To date, the team has removed the old animal pens and fencing to open up grassland and meadows for public use, reinstated the old gravel pathways to enable easy access for disabled and pushchair users, and worked on the public facilities and restored the toilet block.
They have cleared the brash, bramble and saplings that have dominated the area and created a monoculture with a view to increase biodiversity moving forward, plus have been hard at work painting, roofing and much more.
They have liaised with local professionals to design and curate the open public spaces, cleared areas for kids play zone, allotments and picnic tables and removed rubble and old tools, recycling much of it to help landscape other features.
Throughout the darker winter months the team has been working on the old canteen and education centre which will be for volunteer and staff use, stores and clothes drying.
They have also been busy restoring the features of the old wildlife park which has involved clearing and sealing two large ponds, for future public enjoyment.
As Jono explains, “We’ve been rained on, snowed on, sunburned and had chaffed lips since October but it’s been fantastic to see how far it has come”.
Westbury Wildlife Park will be a wonderful addition to the local area, a haven for wildlife, and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike for many years to come.
If you would like to donate to the Westbury Wildlife Park fundraiser, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/westburywildlifeparkfoundation.