AS we count down the days to 2022 a new year with new possibilities, we look back on 2021 and wow, for us up here what a year.

The year started as the last began with the whole uncertainty of the pandemic, like everywhere else we had to close to try to stop the spread of the virus with 1200 animals depending on our care and we rely on money from visitors to feed our animals and for our keepers to keep looking after them.

It costs over £100,000 a month to look after everything and where you can scrimp and save on some thing’s animal welfare, food, heating, and care isn’t one of them.

But money aside we had some fabulous support, both locally, through our “lives”, from our members and just an immense feeling of being completely “propped up” and for that we are, and always will be, eternally grateful.

The animal’s reactions to a lack of visitors to educate and engage were interesting and varied; our keepers had to find creative ways of keeping every resident stimulated and, very interestingly, the animals definitely picked up on the change in number of humans faces they saw during lockdown and began interacting more with each other, and with non-keeping staff who were onsite – and with keepers from other sections.

The opening of our new Andean Bear and Howler monkey house in early 2022 will be a milestone in a project which cost over £100k, and visitors will see one of the best indoor bear facilities in the UK.

More importantly the Bears and Howlers will have access to enjoy their new indoor areas all constructed and designed with the animal’s natural history at its core.

And will represent the first of what hopefully is many to come.

It is always particularly poignant and emotional for the team here when we are able to improve any of the enclosures and/houses, and this one certainly tugged on a few heartstrings, especially being able to achieve this in the middle of the constraints and challenges of the pandemic.

We have lost some familiar faces this year and that is always immensely difficult, but as a famous little bear once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

We have had some difficult lows but which are looking to end the year on good news - a very poorly Kangaroo - Jalapeno who after almost a year’s observation and care from her amazing team has just this week has just been given a clean bill of health from the Vets; And Ring Tail lemur Tyrion who has some amazing x-rays to tell his story of recovery.

We are part of breeding programmes so the animals are playing a major part in conserving their species for the future; having a backup generation to support species in the wild threatened by extinction.

In December 2021 White Rhino zahara, born here in 2017, moved onto Marwell Zoo under the programme, but the crash welcomed 2 new members as we celebrated the births of calves Azeeza and Iniko.

One of our high points is the ongoing relationship with Indy the Dogs for the wild detection dog.

We have seen Indy over the year progress from a young puppy training in the rhino and Africa pens here at the zoo to be ready to be deployed (as soon as covid permits) into the South African reserves to protect these animals in the wild.

  • Other high points this year - red panda cub births and the renewed funding and connection with the red panda forest guardian in Nepal,
  • Funding of lion guardian in Africa another silent extinction Massive £21,000 raised for GCF fund giraffe conservation in the wild, “it is time to stand together and to be the voice for the voiceless”.
  • A whopping £25,000 raised for Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary.
  • Target raised to fund the transportation of Bushmeat Detection Dog Indy on her way to Mankwe Wildlife Reserve.
  • We are ever so proud to have been able to achieve all of this within a year, and not just any year – a year with so many challenges and uncertainties posed by the Pandemic.
  • And for that we only have our supporters to thank.

Look out for 2022 as we launch our “you can change the world” campaign where we will be asking you all to dig deep to recycle your cans up here at the zoo where we will turn that can income into funds purely destined to support Indy as she arrives in South Africa and the reserve to which she is going each and every one of us - “it is our individual decision as to what to do that determines extinction or recovery”.

We also have some very exciting new arrivals planned so keep watching this space.

From everyone here at Cumbria Zoo we wish everyone far and wide a very Merry Christmas and a Happy healthy New Year and May 2022 bring to everyone “normality” with gatherings and feeling safe with our families.