The ZSL zoo sites are home to a number of interesting and important native species. One of the priorities of ZSL’s UK & European Programme is to produce comprehensive and up-to-date records of which native species are present at ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, and to monitor populations of rare and threatened species. Knowing which species are present on ZSL sites is a useful tool for raising awareness about native species in zoo visitors, and can help to inform our management plans at the zoos. We have run surveys of birds and bats on our sites, and are improving the on-going management of the White Lion chalk grassland SSSi (Site of Special Scientific Interest) at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.
White Lion Chalk Grassland SSSI
The White Lion chalk grassland at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSi), being an example of a rare and important habitat in Britain. ZSL manages this site carefully, mimicking the traditional practices that historically maintained such habitats, to ensure that the biodiversity is preserved as fully as possible.
Swifts at ZSL London Zoo
ZSL is concerned about the declining numbers of breeding swifts in the UK. We have taken measures to encourage swifts to breed on the London Zoo site by providing nest boxes and using recorded sounds to call the birds in. Graphics have also been installed to inform the public about this bird and its conservation needs.
Bats at ZSL London Zoo
ZSL is very concerned about the drastic decline in numbers of all 16 British bat species in recent years. Five bat hibernacula (hibernating chambers) were installed at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo in 1995, and surveys were carried out. Three key species were recorded: brown Long-eared bats, Natterer’s bats and Daubenton’s bats.
ZSL is working with the Royal Parks for the conservation of our native hedgehog in London. Regent’s Park is the only Royal Park that still has a population of hedgehogs. With hedgehog numbers decimated, ZSL is helping to understand which are the important habitats for hedgehogs in London and how hedgehogs move between them. It is hoped to use radio tracking for this.