The award-winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park is in seventh heaven as it celebrates its birthday with record breaking figures.
The fast-growing attraction is seven years old on Monday (April 4) having started with 35 staff and annual visitor figures of 66,000. Last year the Park welcomed over 678,000 visitors last year, had over 250 staff and is now in the top 10 of zoos and wildlife parks around the UK.
The majority of the staff live locally and the Park generates millions of pounds of business for the local economy. YWP has also become a major force in animal conservation with a respected record for animal welfare and conservation raising awareness of the plight of endangered species and taking part in critical European and worldwide breeding programmes.
“It is fantastic to be celebrating our seventh birthday and the achievements of Yorkshire Wildlife Park. ‘ commented John Minion, CEO. Everyone here has worked very hard to create a dynamic conservation centre and great family attraction that brings people closer to animals both physically and emotionally. The public’s reaction has been wonderful and is what makes the job worthwhile.”
“YWP is also about a great family day out and seeing smiles on faces and the wonderment in children’s eyes as they get close to lions, tigers or Polar bears is complete job satisfaction for us.” Cheryl Williams, CEO of the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation added, “ Our visitors have also responded by supporting our fundraising efforts for conservation and animal welfare and our projects around the world – and they should be proud of their part in an international effort that is turning back the tide for some species.”
YWP has provided a huge boost to the local economy and its work and from spending £310,000 with local businesses in 2009, is now worth around £2.6 million a year to Doncaster and South Yorkshire. The park’s capital expenditure has also increased in that time from £300,000 in 2009 to £3.6 million in 2016. Staffing levels have leapt from the first 35 to over 300 during the peak summer holiday season this year. YWP staff have attended 500 training events since 2012 from animal husbandry to food hygiene to maintain high standards of delivery across the park.
During the seven years, YWP has won a series of accolades for its animal welfare projects and business performance and has secured the title as the UK’s Number 1 wildlife attraction, winning the prestigious Gold Accolade from Visit England for the past two years. Visitors enjoy a unique walk through experience coming almost face to face with some of the world’s most beautiful and endangered species, including the country’s only Polar Bears.
The park and the range of animals have grown with Land of the Tigers, Leopard Heights and Project Polar significant landmarks in the conservation programme which is championed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation charity. YWP has hit international headlines by rescuing 13 lions from a Romanian Zoo, in 2010, and in 2015 for the remarkable footage of the birth of rare Amur Tiger cubs which was seen by around five million viewers. “It is a very special birthday for us but it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the local public and all our hard-working staff,” added Mr Minion. “We are proud to be a local and national success and to put Doncaster on the map for tourism.”