Visitors to Knowsley Safari will have noticed a new look habitat taking shape in the walkaround area, as staff are busily preparing for the arrival of the newest additions to the Safari, Bush Dogs.
The team of builders and keepers have been planning the redevelopment for more than a year in partnership with Erik Van Vliet, a leading designer of zoological projects creating enriching habitats, while enabling visitors to discover more about these fascinating animals and their habitat.
The area, selected for its natural flowing water and undulating ground, will allow the water loving animals - native to South America - a habitat where they can explore the natural pond and burrow underground.
Visitors will be able to view the Bush Dogs from a variety of specially created viewpoints including footpaths, a raised children’s platform and large glass viewing panels.
Knowsley’s team has created signage to tell the story of the Bush Dogs, their role in the ecosystem, the threat from humans
in the wild and help visitors understand the unique characteristics of this mysterious animal.
Eveline de Wolf, Head of Animal Collections at Knowsley Safari, said: “The excitement is really building here, with the keepers preparing to welcome the new arrivals and getting ready to introduce them to their new habitat.
“In South America, the fragmentation of native land due to the spread of human population means that the bush dogs and their usual prey, must cover greater distances in order to find food and shelter putting pressure of them.
“This means they are now classified as near threatened and therefore at risk of becoming a vulnerable species in terms of wild population.”
Bridget Murray, Knowsley Safari’s Research and Conservation Officer, said: “This new habitat will not only be an exciting new reason to visit Knowsley Safari, but, gives us a new opportunity to begin another research project.
We are on the hunt for a partner university that will help us to carry out research that could help us to contribute towards identifying a way to secure a sustainable future for both the human habitats and the species living alongside them.”
Edward Perry, Director of Knowsley Safari adds: “We have spent time carefully planning this new habitat in partnership with experts to ensure the species’ social and physical needs are met to the highest standards.
“Additionally we committed to using sustainable building materials, sourcing timber from FSC sustainable forests and this is something that we hope our customers will not only enjoy aesthetically, but will be an ideology that they take away and implement in their own lives, whether that be greeting cards, paper or furniture for their home or garden.”
Native to South America, in the wild, bush dogs are classified as near threatened due to human developments impacting their environment.
“Although belonging to the dog family, the very private animals look much more like otters or bears in appearance, with webbed feet, making them excellent swimmers too.
Visitors will be able to see the Bush Dogs from next month.