Wednesday, 20 June 2012 10:32 AM
The Channel Islands are renowned for their stunning scenery and beautiful flora and fauna, but did you know you can experience a taste of Africa here too? One of Jersey's top attractions is Durrell Wildlife Park, where you will feel as though you are in Madagascar!
Owned by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, this is a worthwhile project that is aiming to save endangered species from becoming extinct and being lost to future generations. The charity ploughs money into developing new techniques that will help to protect these precious animals.
It has its headquarters in Jersey, where it also runs a wildlife park. You can visit for a day or even stay the night. Read on to find out more about this amazing place.
Meet the animals
Kids and adults alike love coming to Durrell Wildlife Park - located four miles from St Helier - as they can see more than 1,000 animals, many of which originate from exotic climes. Across 32 acres of parkland and gardens, 1,400 creatures roam.
Endangered inhabitants of the park include a family of western lowland gorillas, a community of Madagascan lemurs, three generations of a Sumatran orang-utan family, black-lion tamarins from Brazil and marmosets. There are also plenty of other birds, amphibians and mammals, including an Andean bear, pygmy hog, Livingstone's fruit bat and maned wolf.
Perhaps the most compelling animals are the great apes, with gorillas living at the park since it opened in 1959. To date there have been 15 babies born here, while seven orang-utan babies have also been delivered at the facility.
See behind the scenes
Simply wandering around the park and looking at the animals that live here is an exciting experience, but you can make your trip even more memorable by taking a peek behind the scenes. The facility runs several schemes that allow you to do just this.
You can meet the keepers who care for your favourite creature, who will tell you all about their job, or even walk in their shoes for a day by helping out with some of the tasks they do.
Another option is to meet the vets who work here and assist them as they treat one of the exotic beasts. Or, you could simply spend a fun day with the lemurs, getting to know the individual personalities in the community.
Spend the night
Perhaps the most exciting experience you can have is to spend the night. There are luxury camping facilities onsite, so after a busy day exploring you can spend the evening in a high-tech camping pod kit out with a double bed, stove, kitchen and showering facilities and even a deck where you can soak up the sun for a while.
Waking up to hear the sounds of wild animals in the distance, you won't feel as though you are in the Channel Islands but Madagascar or the South American rainforests! As well as being able to enjoy all the fun of glamping, you will also get free entry into the park, so you can head back whenever you fancy. It's almost like being on safari!
Adopt an animal
As a reminder of the fun you have had at the park, you can give something back by adopting an animal. You will receive a certificate, photograph and fact sheet about your chosen animal and your money will be put towards the work the trust does all over the world to conserve habitats for endangered species.