Published: 00:00, 28 April 2017
The former Rare Species Conservation Centre in Sandwich will open as a sister site to Wingham Wildlife Park next year, KentOnline can reveal.
The popular attraction took over the site at Bellar’s Bush at the A256 roundabout after it acquired the land in January.
Clearing work has already taken place and news signs reading Sandwich Wildlife Park have been put up.
An exact date for its opening hasn’t been given but animal curator Markus Wilder told KentOnline it will be 2018.
He said: “We expect the site to be ready for visitors next year – but we’re unable to give an exact date just yet.”
The new site will be home to clouded leopards, South American maned wolves and ring-tailed lemurs and provide accommodation for overnight visitors.
Mr Wilder said: “The work which we have done so far has included a lot of gardening and grounds work to let us reach all areas of the park as well as seeing exactly what still needs to be done before we are ready to open and add new animals.
“The majority of this has been removing and trimming back much of the bamboo growth which has occurred over the past year or so, allowing us to reach the enclosure edges so that we can make a start on securing any which might need some updating.”
Other work to get the park ready for moving in animals includes the addition of new push off barriers around enclosures as well as a major re-work of the old bear enclosure to drastically increase its size.
The Rare Species Conservation Centre closed to the public on August 31, 2015 after nine years due to a lack of funds.
News of its reopening was welcomed by schools in the town – mainly because of its educational benefits and its pull to the area.
Mr Wilder said: “Along with the new signs at the front of the park we have also been re-designing and putting up new signage in the park, which includes educational signs for the animal enclosures as well as health and safety signs, ready for when we are able to accept visitors.”
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