They met with staff, vets and potential funders, to show their support for a proposed state-of-the-art vet centre and a giraffe house – two additions to the outdoor wildlife attraction that will allow visitors to get up-close to exotic animals.
The vet centre, which will be named CEZM (European Centre of Excellence for Zoological Medicine), will be the UK’s first Zoo medicine and learning space open to the public.
Expected to cost around £10m, it will house one of the most highly-qualified veterinary teams in Europe and will offer high-end hospital facilities, complete with viewing windows, allowing visitors to watch live procedures.
During their two hour visit, The Earl and Countess also found out about the attraction’s Giraffe House Appeal - a fundraising campaign to build an immersive, state-of-the-art giraffe exhibit at Wild Place Project to highlight the work they will be carrying out in Africa to save giraffes in the wild.
The Earl also officially opened the Mahali Pori exhibit, home to three cheetah, guinea fowl, eland and zebra and signed the opening page of the Wild Place Project’s visitors’ book.
"We were delighted to welcome Their Royal Highnesses to Wild Place Project”, said Dr Bryan Carroll, CEO of Wild Place Project. "The Earl has always shown a great interest in our conservation and education programmes and to now have his support for both our European Centre of Excellence for Zoological Medicine and the Giraffe House Appeal really highlights the importance of our plans.
“Both of these projects will add to our already strong educational offering at Wild Place Project, and will allow our guests to get a unique, behind-the-scenes glimpse at the amazing work our vets and keepers do every day.”
It was the first time His Royal Highness has visited Wild Place Project, which opened in 2013, the same year that The Earl became Royal Patron of Bristol Zoo Gardens.
Construction for the Giraffe House is expected to start later in the year and work to build CEZM will begin in 2019, following an extensive fundraising campaign.
To find out more about Wild Place Project and the two projects, visit www.wildplaceproject.org.uk.