Sedgley pupil leads countdown to Christmas at Dudley Zoo

Cotwall End Primary School pupil Eliza Lewis counts down to Christmas at Dudley Zoo

Staff at Dudley Zoological Gardens are coping with a busy festive season this year at the 40-acre site, helped along the way by Eliza Lewis, a pupil at Cotwall End Primary School, Sedgley.

Eliza, from Castle Hill, Dudley, was one of many young visitors to the zoo this festive season, who have all enjoyed a fun-packed day out full of Christmas cheer.
Santa’s Grotto, hosted in the grounds of the 11th century Dudley Castle, started on December 5 and runs through to Christmas Eve.
DZG’s Magical Winter Wonderland package includes zoo admission, a magical train ride, a visit to Santa in his grotto, a surprise gift and a fun-filled Christmas show.

Reindeer

Head of media and communications, Jill Hitchman, says: “We’ve got lots of festive fun planned across the site and Santa’s reindeer have been training in the courtyard for weeks in readiness for their busiest night of the year.”
She adds: “We’ve also taken on seasonal staff to cope with the usual festive rush to buy animal adoptions and Keeper For a Day packages which make fantastic gifts for all ages, and sales of our calendar are going well, too.”
The theme for 2012’s calendar is Baby Love, complete with images of a wide range of rare and endangered species born at DZG in the past 12 months – a bumper year for new arrivals.
Jill adds: “We’re all looking forward to a great Christmas time and exciting 2012. Next year is DZG’s 75th anniversary and we’ve lots of exciting new projects planned to mark our big birthday.”
For full details or to book Santa’s Grotto or a zoo experience visit www.dudleyzoo.or.uk or call 01384 215313.

A wild Hallowe’en at Dudley Zoo

The Lewis family, l-r, 12-year-old Harry, a pupil at Ellowes School, mum Lesley and six-year-old Eliza who goes to Cotwall End Primary School, Sedgley. Picture courtesy of Daniel Graves Photography Show.

Dudley Zoo was the venue for some spooky goings-on this Hallowe’en, with many Sedgley residents paying the popular tourist attraction a visit and getting into the spirit.

Six-year-old Eliza Lewis, a pupil at Cotwall End Primary School, was among the many youngsters who took part in a series of activities organised by the zoo for half term Hallowe’en fun.

Among the new arrivals at Dudley Zoo were a witch’s favourite – three giant smooth-sided toads (Bufo guttatus) – which are among the largest in the world.

Presenter, Langan Turner, says: “Toads have a fascinating history; they were traditional companions for witches in the Middle Ages when their proud owners dressed them in silk ribbons and silver bells, and on a literary note there is Paddock the toad in Macbeth, and Trevor, the pet toad owned by Neville Longbottom, in the Harry Potter stories.”
He added: “This species is found in the rainforests of South America and able to reach a body length of 25cm, so they are very much bigger than the common toads in the UK and rather more handsome.”
The new arrivals have been named Porthos, Athos and Aramis.
Hallowe’en half-term events included themed talks and feeds, ending with a Hocus Pocus evening on Monday, October 31.
For adults, there’s still a chance to join the spooks of Dudley Castle with this year’s Carnival of Darkness, due to an extra date being added on Friday, November 4. The carnival is suitable for 16-years and over and will run from 8pm to midnight, with last admissions at 9pm.
To book tickets visit www.dudleyzoo.org.uk or call 01384 215313 for more details.
Keeper Stacey Ball uses the donated pumpkins as enrichment for the some of the site’s 30 free roaming lemurs
Pumpkin fun for lemurs
Local residents wondering what to do with all those specially carved pumpkins might also be interested to learn that these make ideal treats for the zoo’s lemurs, which have been enjoying Hallowe’en treats, thanks to kind supporters who donated pumpkins aplenty.
CEO, Peter Suddock, says: “Lots of people who attended Hallowe’en events throughout half term brought in pumpkins as enrichment for the animals, and most sections from small primates to pandas have been enjoying the gifts.”
Across the site keepers have been filling the hollowed-out vegetables with fruit and treats for the animals to seek out and encouraging them to use the decorative skin as a toy.