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Youngsters Sneak Preview of College’s Wildlife and Conservation Centre

22nd December 2015

Youngsters Sneak Preview of College’s Wildlife and Conservation Centre
Jacob Lingwood and Daisy Donovan both aged 10 and pupils of St Mary's CE Primary School, Askham Richard, with Smokey

An inspirational and educational journey through evolution and animal habitats is on the horizon as students at Askham Bryan College look to the New Year when they will begin using the new Wildlife and Conservation Centre as the focus for their studies.

The £6.8m building at the York campus showcases a range of world-class wildlife habitats – from a Yorkshire river to arid deserts, to a mangrove swamp, and a coral reef  - giving students a unique educational experience of caring for and working with exotic species in a practical work environment.

Over recent weeks wildlife as diverse as Spectacled Caiman, Hairy Armadillos, Californian King Snakes, Brown Trout and Iguanas have been introduced to their new homes. Pupils from St Mary's CE Primary School, Askham Richard near York have had a sneak preview, looking round the Centre and meeting some of the new 'residents', including Smokey one of the college's two skunks.

The Centre has been designed by David Lazenby of Azureus Design Ltd who has created innovative and imaginative animal exhibits for wildlife centres and museums across Europe and the USA,  and also at the “Eden Project” in Cornwall and involvement with “The Deep” in Hull.

Insight into the wildlife and their habitat is given via informative graphics and there are also life sized human figures to enhance the experience, for example a researcher in his tree-climbing harness can be seen in a replica of the rainforest canopy alongside the classrooms above.

Liz Philip, Executive Principal said: “It is no exaggeration to say this is world class - I know of no other college in the UK with this calibre of educational facility. In due course it will be complemented by the wildlife park which is currently underway. “

“We are opening the Centre as a resource to schools and plan to extend this to the general public who will be able to visit outside term time. Conservation is a key focus and we envisage developing wildlife breeding programmes to help boost at-risk species providing an abundance of opportunity to study to enhance their knowledge skills and career prospects”.

Askham Bryan College students study for diplomas through to honours degrees in Animal Science, Animal Management and Veterinary Nursing. Many go on to work as animal keepers, education officers in zoos and provide valuable field-based research into the conservation of endangered species and their habitats.

The Centre features:

a dynamic Yorkshire Dales river system with local fish species such as Brown Trout and Grayling
a Coastal Rock Pool with native species such as Starfish and Common Prawn
a Lake Malawi tank with rare and more common species of Cichlid
a tropical coral reef system with Yellow Tang Fish, Raccoon Butterfly Fish and Clown Fish
a display of amphibians with rare newts from Lake Urmia in Iran, Amazon Milk Frogs and brightly coloured Poison Dart Frogs
tropical environments featuring large reptiles such as Spectacled Caiman and Green Iguana, plus the Tokay Gecho and Goliath Bird Eating Tarantula Spider
an arid desert area with Californian King Snake, Saharan Uromastyx, Graphic Spiny Lizard and Desert Iguana
mangrove swamp with Mudskippers and Fiddler Crabs
a nocturnal cave system with Egyptian Jerboa, Palm Civet, Hairy Armadillos, Sugar Gliders,  Gambian Pouched Rat, Blind Cave Fish and Tailless Whip Scorpions