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A Zookeepers Diary: What colour is your footprint?

Review / January 13, 2020

For a zoo as small as the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park (AWCP), collaboration is everything. The park is situated within the stunning Gibraltar Botanic Gardens (GBG), locally known as The Alameda. On a day-to-day basis, the Botanic Gardens and the Wildlife Park operate different functions the realms of horticulture and animal husbandry respectively, but each section will help the other out when required. Every week, gardener Andrew Abrines, brings the much-needed browse (fresh, edible vegetation) to the park for the staff to give to the animals to eat or to provide them with shelter and enrichment. The park will also use chipping created from waste vegetation for their enclosures. This is just one of the many ways the Botanic Gardens and the Wildlife Park work together to be more sustainable.

Every year the Wildlife Park holds at least two open days for the local community to find out more about what they do and also to fundraise for their many projects to improve the lives of the animals. Up until recently, these popular open days were confined to the Wildlife Park, just a one-acre section of the gardens. For the first time ever this year the Botanic Gardens co-hosted the mid-term open day with the AWCP.

Many visitors to the gardens perhaps don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at the GBG; the work that is carried out by the scientific team in the laboratories, led by Director, Dr Keith Bensusan, or know about the stunning array of cacti cultivated by the Gardens Curator Andrzej Gdaniec, or the fantastic Biodome Educational Area plans and educational work carried out by Christine Gilder and Andrew Abrines. This open day gave general public the opportunity to find out more about the GBG as a whole and the work they do. For the Wildlife Park, it gave the opportunity to explore other ideas and collaborations, previously made difficult due to restricted space available in the small area.

The open day was also timed perfectly with the launch of the ‘Habits for Habitats’ (H4H) campaign. This campaign follows on from the work of the Conscious eating and CutMeatNotTrees campaigns. Both aimed to encourage people to reduce the amount of meat and dairy in their diets, for the sake of the environment. The H4H campaign highlights how many of our everyday habits are affecting the environment and what action individuals can take in order to help save habitats. This is increasingly important given the climate crisis and the impacts of this on habitats and vulnerable species all over the world, particularly those related to the animal species at the Wildlife Park.

10am – Local NGO’s such as The Nautilus Project (TNP), Gibraltar Ornithological & Natural History Society (GONHS) and the Environmental Safety Group (ESG) have been working for many years in Gibraltar to incite a change in our human habits for the sake of the environment, from tackling air pollution, to yearly ‘Clean up the World’ initiatives, regular community Beach Cleans to preserving ocean habitats, working with local species conservation, providing bat boxes and swift nests in new buildings and raising awareness of the need to provide and preserve habitats for local species both on land and in the oceans. As a tribute to the crucial role these fantastic NGO’s play and to raise awareness of their work, they were invited to take part in the Open Day. TNP & the Rotary Club arrived early to set up their stalls. The Rotary Club also set up a clothes rail with pre-loved clothing for sale, to promote the need for more sustainable fashion. Both NGO’s were also selling re-fillable aluminium bottles at the event and AquaGib kindly loaned their bowser for the day to help reduce waste. No plastic bottles were sold during the event and all waste was kept to a minimum throughout.

This article from Jess Leaper has been republished in part with permission from The Gibraltar Magazine, to read the full article click here


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