08 18/08/2016

Celebrate UK wildlife at Chester Zoo’s Wildlife Connections Festival

Two days of intimate wildlife encounters, nature activities, workshops, live music and cinema will take place at Chester Zoo as part of a new festival celebrating all things UK wildlife.

Children go pond dipping with Chester Zoo’s education team

The zoo’s nature reserve will play host to the first Wildlife Connections Festival on 16 and 17 September - a free event that organisers hope will inspire more people to take action for native British species.

Almost all UK wildlife is declining. Recent surveys indicate the hedgehog population in Britain has decreased by 50% in rural areas since 2002, 72% of British butterfly species are in decline and one in five wildflowers are threatened with extinction. UK habitat has also changed dramatically - much of Britain was once covered by woodland but it now covers just 12% of the land.

The Wildlife Connections Festival aims to thrust the UK’s wonderful wildlife into the limelight – fusing family fun with serious conservation.

Fearless families can test their survival skills on the Terrific Toads obstacle course. As visitors dodge dangerous driveways, swerve slug pellets and try to collect as much food as they can on the way, they will experience the daily challenges faced by the UK’s endangered amphibians.

Junior pond dippers, mini beast hunters and bird spotters can transform themselves into wildlife conservationists through a raft of hands on activities for all ages.

Live acoustic music will provide the perfect soundtrack to both days and a solar powered cinema will show a host of inspiring nature flicks.

Manon Keir, Chester Zoo’s Wildlife Connections project officer, said:

“The Wildlife Connections Festival is a real must for wildlife enthusiasts of all ages. It’s a new festival that is all about connecting people with nature. It’s a chance to celebrate the UK’s wonderful wildlife and, importantly, learn about species that really need our help, before it’s too late.

“The UK’s wildlife has undergone a rapid decline over the last 15 years and so it’s really important that we encourage people to engage with conservationists who are working hard to protect our wildlife and the habitats they rely on. This festival gives people the chance to do exactly that.”

Other highlights include interactive storytelling with storytelling laureate (2014) Katrice Horsley, demonstrations on creating bee-friendly gardens and the opportunity to build bird feeders, bug homes and toad abodes. Visitors can also take a drone’s eye view of the landscape and find out how drones can support conservation work.

The two-day event will be held at the zoo’s nature reserve – a two-acre wildlife haven which is home to a wide variety of local species and features wildflower meadows, a pond and a grass amphitheatre.

Wildlife Connections Festival: What’s on?

  • Explore the world of a toad via a quirky obstacle course challenge, built by local community groups with extreme den-builder, Cathy Cross
  • Live music and entertainment across both days at the solar powered stage
  • Find out how to make your garden bee friendly with the zoo’s horticulturist team and join in creating a sculpture and home for bees for the bee garden at Chester Zoo
  • Interactive storytelling with storytelling laureate (2014) Katrice Horsley
  • Create bird feeders, bug homes and toad abodes and take them home
  • Get surveying, with pond-dipping, bug hunts and bird spotting with the zoo’s conservation team
  • Watch films at the Sol Cinema – a solar powered cinema inside a vintage caravan!
  • Take a drone’s eye view of the landscape and find out how drones can support conservation work, with Liverpool John Moores University
  • Find out who’s doing what for conservation locally at the conservation market place - showcasing the work of local conservation and community organisations, with plenty of opportunities to get hands on
  • Join in on an exciting range of fun and interactive activities celebrating all things UK wildlife, as well as face painting, food and drinks (charges apply to face-painting and refreshments)
  • The Wildlife Connections Festival has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)