AS WE start to see the light at the end of ‘second lockdown’, I hope everyone is coming through it safely and positively.

I’m not sure where the time has gone, it feels like I’ve hardly had time to draw breath!

This is because, luckily, we didn’t have to press ‘pause’ on ongoing schedules introducing new occupants to the zoo, a practice which I’m often asked about.

Good zoos do much more than simply display animals: they educate, and through selective breeding, help conserve species at risk of extinction in the wild. Soberingly, were it not for zoos, many species would no longer exist at all.

International breeding programmes, which match compatible pairs across zoos, encourage healthy populations of endangered animals.

Young males in many species need to break free from home, and run with their own herd or pack.

Introducing new species to the zoo also gives the public vital opportunities to see and learn about them.

So we always have long-term coordinated plans for introducing and moving animals, and this November (even with lockdown), was no exception.

Adding to the mischief and mayhem in our monkey enclosure is a new emperor tamarin.

Also expanding the gene pool, and of great interest I know, will be our new potoroo joey (baby), plus some spreo starlings to increase our flock.

It was a big day yesterday as we said goodbye to Manakara, our male fossa.

He’s needed in a zoo in Holland as part of the European Breeding Programme, so by the time you read this he should be settled into his new home.

His enclosure won’t be empty for long though as we’ve a new male coming soon.

As a small zoo, we are very proud to play a significant part in the European Breeding Programme, not least through our two successful snow leopard breeding cycles and in hot off the press news, we’re about to receive a new armadillo.

Nessa and Tank have been huge favourites, so this could introduce some drama.

I will share more details as soon as our arrival settles in, but first I need to go and shake out the ‘welcome’ mat.