The British Wildlife Centre in Lingfield is home to over 40 native British species. It offers an opportunity for people to get closer to animals and birds that are often too elusive to spot in the wild, including Scottish wildcats, dormice and red squirrels. It was opened by David Mills in 1998 to educate the public about the creatures found in Britain and the challenges they face because of issues such as pollution, population growth and loss of habitat. The centre also breeds many endangered wildlife species and participates in official release programmes.
Sitting alongside the naturally landscaped enclosures is the nature reserve, 26 acres of former agricultural land remodelled into wetlands, woodland and grassland, which has now developed a thriving ecosystem of its own.
The centre closed for three months during lockdown, with office staff and most of the keepers put on furlough. The head keeper and his deputy remained on site throughout, to ensure the furry, feathered, spikey and scaly residents received their usual high quality of care. Tandridge District Council provided the centre with a grant, but marketing manager Liza Lipscombe says it was a relief when they could open again in July.
"Our income suddenly stopped, but the bills didn't! Thankfully, we can now take school visits and private tours again during term-time weekdays, and the public can pre-book tickets for weekends and holidays."
The Centre also offers membership, animal adoption and photography days. To donate or find out more go to www.britishwildlifecentre.co.uk.