Rainforest comes to Bedfordshire

Tuesday 1 May 2018

In June 2018, work will begin on a a new £3.65m modern standalone Zoological Education Centre by The Bedford College Group on its Shuttleworth College campus. The facility will include a range of specialist animal care teaching areas; a tropical Biome and new teaching facilities.  In the new centre, the college will be able to expand the range of courses available for teaching animal care. The Biome and other parts of the centre will also be open for school and educational visits.  The Zoological Society of London is assisting the college with the design and specification of the centre.  

The Biome will be the first facility of its type to be developed by an FE college.  

Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire will be the home to an “Eden style” zoological education centre complete with tropical rainforest setting, immersive bio-sphere and a wide range of species.

Animated plans for the  £4 Million complex can be viewed with here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_q8En2oTL0 with a voice over by Shuttleworth’s very own ‘David Attenborough’ the Manager of the current Animal Centre Carl Groombridge.

Rainforest comes to BedfordshireThe new Zoologicial Educational Centre will open for the new term of September 2019 by which time existing animal buildings will be demolished and the wildlife given time to settle into new surroundings.

Shuttleworth College has already a huge range of animals from endangered Iguana to loveable Meerkats, South American llamas and colourful tropical birds. In fact there is one representative of every ‘order’ within the animal kingdom. 

Shuttleworth has been working closely with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) which owns London and Whipsnade zoos, to create an environment where animal welfare is paramount but young people can train to work anywhere in the world.

“It is a state of the art development, an Eden for fauna and flora, a living classroom where students can learn how to care for creatures in an environment which is close to the real world,” said Carl,

“One bubble dome area will replicate Costa Rica which is the nearest thing to heaven for conservationists on Earth.  

“The facility will allow us to expand the range of animals we have here. For example we already have some caiman small-sized crocodilians, but will now have Mississippi alligators too in their own pool.”

Conservation and care for the animals is the key priority while allowing students to learn how to support endangered species. Shuttleworth College has already won international recognition for helping to breed from an endangered Iguana.

“We are already part of an international conservation and educational network, but this new facility will put us firmly on the world map. For me is a dream come true,” added Carl who has worked at Shuttleworth College for 13 years.

Director of Shuttleworth College Dr. Catherine Lloyd said: “This is quite simply the best educational facility of its kind in the UK and will enable us to offer students courses from entry level at the age of 16 and progression on to Degree level qualifications will take them into any job in the world.

“Careers in animal welfare, conservation and zoos in centres, parks or as vet nurses are awaiting those who study here at Shuttleworth College.”

Ian Pryce CBE Principal and CEO of The Bedford College Group which is investing £5 Million+ at Shuttleworth College after signing a 40-year-lease on the Old Warden Park outdoor education facility said: “We are creating learning and employment opportunities for young people not just in the South East region, but across the country and the world. This facility will be a world class educational setting which will be a tribute to the long-standing international reputation of Shuttleworth College.”

Building the “ark”

Building Project Manager Mark Eustace explains the Zoological Centre was designed to be  “green” from the blueprints to brickwork. “We have worked closely with experts from the ZSL so that this building meets full zoo quality standards. The bio dome will be a unique teaching environment, there is nothing like it the UK. It will be sustainable and energy efficient, bio secure and suitable even to allow visitors on educational trips, from local schools for instance, to attend.”

Photos shows L - R Alison Pearce, Head of Department for Animal Studies,  Carl and Catherine with plans of the new centre.

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