A colony of sea lions are about to become TV stars as they prepares to move to the award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park.
The six playful animals – male Dominic, 13, and females, Lara, 12, and Bailey,13, and two-year-old youngsters, Hanno, Oakley and Maui – feature in a two-part ITV documentary that charts behind-the-scenes zoo life.
The colony will be moving later this year and and they have been in training to get used to their transport crates for the cross-country move from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. They will enjoy life in Yorkshire in a new purpose-built facility which opens in Spring 2021.
London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year, which is broadcast this Thursday and on October 1, shows the efforts of staff to care for animals during the challenges of the pandemic and re-opening to the public.
“We are very excited to welcome the sea lions and have been in close contact with ZSL Whipsnade Zoo to make the journey as smooth and easy as possible,” said Dr Matt Hartley, Head of Animals at the park in Branton, near Doncaster.
“It is a relatively short journey, but everyone is focused on making it comfortable for these charismatic animals who I’m sure will be a big hit with our visitors.
“The documentary is fascinating and shows clearly how much love keepers have for their animals and how wonderful the sea lions are.”
“The sea lions will be a big hit on the documentary, and we will ensure they have a great, happy home here in Yorkshire.”
Transport arrangements from Bedfordshire to Yorkshire have been meticulously planned with a team of keepers and vets on hand throughout the journey as well as a careful plan to gradually introduce the sea lions to their spacious travel containers.
ZSL Whipsnade sealion keeper Alex Pinnell, who features in the documentary, said: “Though we will miss our intelligent and playful colony of sealions, we’re delighted they will be going to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, who are building an amazing, brand-new exhibit, custom designed for sealions – it’s also great that they’re moving together as one colony, so will remain a family unit. ”
The new facility is part of an expansion which will double the size of the park from its current 150 acres of spacious animal reserves with over 450 animals of over 70 species. More new species and new visitor facilities will be announced over the coming months as part of the expansion which make YWP a world class destination and provides a major boost to the local economy.
· London Zoo: An Extraordinary Year. ITV at 9pm on Thursday, September 23rd and Thursday, October 1st.