A new nocturnal and exotics house has opened at Essex’s Barleylands Farm Park this month introducing visitors to some unusual creatures, some of which are not found anywhere else in the South-East of England.
With over 30 exotic mammals, reptiles and amphibians, the new addition to the farm park’s Discovery Barn will offer hands-on experiences and talks alongside the displays to illustrate native habits and habitats, survival stories and unusual achievements such as the rat specialising in bomb disposal.
The new attraction in Billericay has been created by Gary Muirden and Faith Scott, who also run the Birds of Prey area at Barleylands. It has an emphasis on education as well as the opportunity to see different species, and each habitat has been built to recreate the natural environment of the inhabitants as much as possible.
Ms Scott said: “We wanted to build on the educational and recreational foundations of Barleylands and showcase some of the world’s lesser known creatures. We are excited to have some of the animals already settled in, and more will arrive over the course of the next few weeks.”
Set over two floors, the nocturnal creatures – which include fruit bats that eat over a kilogram of fruit every day, and sugar guilders – will be on the ground floor, with reptiles on the first floor. The colourful murals that intersperse the displays have been painted by the local registered charity Dis 4 U, which works with adults with learning difficulties.
The first floor includes a small educational room with interactive displays, an illustrative world map and stories including the reasons for the trafficking of exotic animals.
Faith added: “Some of the animals we have will not be familiar to many visitors, and even those that are, we hope to share new and interesting aspects to be enjoyed by all ages. This will include regular talks, up-close experiences and the opportunity to hold some of the animals and reptiles.”
Access to the new attraction is included in the entry price for the Farm Park, for which entry is half-price until January 31. School and nursery groups will be able to include the new area in educational visits with informative talks and experiences tailored to the age-group.