Work has begun on creating an exciting new bear exhibit at Wild Place Project.
Bear Wood, which will cost £5 million, is being built in woodland at the attraction on the outskirts of Bristol. It will be home to wolves, lynx and wolverine as well as bears and now work is underway by Bristol-based construction firm, Dribuild Group.
Bear Wood, which opens to the public next summer, has won the backing of celebrities including Sir Tony Robinson and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, as well as wildlife presenters Dr Alice Roberts, Miranda Krestovnikoff, and Rhys Jones.
Dr Justin Morris, chief executive of Bristol Zoological Society, said: “After months of planning and preparation work is now underway. This is a really exciting time. We are confident that this will be the best bear exhibit in the country.”
He added: “The aim of Bear Wood is to show the effects of woodland loss on our native wildlife. Bear Wood is the story of what was, where we are now and what is still at stake.”
The bears, lynx and wolverine will join a pack of five wolves already at Wild Place Project which is located just off Junction 17 of the M5.
The first stage of the work involves building specialist foundations which will be laid without damaging any tree roots. A raised walkway will then be constructed through the site, which will be used to carry building materials keeping them clear of the woodland floor.
A ground-level viewing area, with 180 degree floor-to-ceiling glass will also be built allowing visitors to come within inches of the bears for a truly immersive experience.
Dribuild Group will construct a special ‘look-out’ with plate glass windows where people will be able to stand just inches from the bears.
Matt Tyler, Dribuild’s managing director, said: “We’re delighted to be continuing our partnership with Bristol Zoological Society and to be involved in such a unique and exciting project that will preserve our woodland, and wildlife, for many years to come.”
Bristol Zoological Society, which operates Bristol Zoo Gardens and Wild Place Project, has already received donations and sponsorship towards the cost of the scheme but still needs funds to deliver all elements. An appeal has been launched to raise that money.
Dr Morris said: “As a charity, we’ve been extremely fortunate to have been backed by generous benefactors and sponsors towards the cost of the scheme but we still need more to help us deliver this amazing exhibit that we hope will be enjoyed by future generations for many years to come.
“We have launched an appeal to raise funds for this amazing exhibit and would love to hear from people who would like to play an imperative role in the future of this vital project.”
Woods, similar to those at Wild Place Project, covered Britain in the first millennium AD but have been steadily cut down for building, housing, fuel, growing crops and making paper. Today such woods cover only two per cent of the country.
This beautiful habitat is home to threatened native species, such as lesser-spotted woodpeckers, tawny owls and hedgehogs and the forest floor is dense with bluebells, snowdrops, orchids, wild garlic and foxgloves.
Bear Wood, its enclosures, walkways and buildings, will be built without harming the existing woods. The elements have been designed around the existing woodland features and landscape to protect the habitat.
If you would like to make a donation or just find out more about the Bear Wood Appeal, click here
If you would like to become a Bear Wood Guardian, contact Richard Rollings at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Kate Smith at email@example.com
Part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas.
The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) is contributing towards the costs of fencing for the bear, wolf, wolverine and lynx enclosures.