The Yorkshire Wildlife Park, commonly referred to as YWP, is a wildlife park located in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in England. It was built on the site of Brockholes Farm Visitor Centre, which closed to the public in November 2008. Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).
With nearly 400 animals and 70 different species of animal, Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a fantastic place to experience a truly breathtaking walk-through wildlife adventure. Most of the animals at the park are either endangered or threatened, Yorkshire Wildlife Park work closely with charities to help the conservation of endangered species in the wild and captivity.
*** – Animals – ***
In Romania, the lions were living in filthy concrete pens, fed on a meagre diet of scraps and faced an uncertain future. The new director, Diaina Ghender, realised that the zoo could not care for them and contacted YWP to see if they could rehome the lions.
At the time, YWP was a new park and did not have the funds to rehome and care for the lions but with the help of the News of the World launched a massive campaign `Lion Rescue’. The public rallied for the cause and raised £150,000 which helped bring the lions back to Yorkshire. A team of big cat experts from zoos around the UK travelled to Romania to help load the 13 lions in the snow! The lions arrived in February 2010 – Jet2.com donated the use of a plane and with special permission, they were allowed to land at Doncaster Airport. The pilot began his descent from Amsterdam in order to mitigate the effect of the pressure on the lions’ ears! The world’s media was watching and the lions became world famous overnight.
The 13 lions included two cubs, Dani and Simba who were then aged just eight months old, and Jonny Senior who was 27 years old. All the lions rediscovered their health and have been a favourite with visitors here at YWP in the purpose built Lion Country. Ten years on there are 6 lions in Lion Country: Simba, Maria, Carla, Crystal, Julie and Ares.
Black RhinosInto Africa is home to Jasper and Makibo, two critically endangered Eastern Black Rhinos. The pair arrived at Yorkshire Wildlife Park on March 21st 2018. Once found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, sightings of Black Rhino were extremely common. However, populations quickly declined with the introduction of European settlers, who relentlessly hunted Black Rhinos.
Between 1970 and 1992, their population declined by 96% to 2,300 from a devastating period of poaching for their horns which are used to make ornamental crowns, cups and ceremonial daggers as well as for herbal medicine. Demand for rhino horn is still rising. However, thanks to global conservation and anti-poaching efforts since 1992, Black Rhinos numbers have steadily risen to around 5,000 individuals.
Giraffe.A firm favourite with visitors to Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Giraffe are the tallest species of animal in the world. Into Africa is home to Behansin, Jengo, Jambo and Palle. Their tallest residents at YWP, they have two subspecies of Giraffe, two Reticulated Giraffe, one endangered Rothschild’s Giraffe and one hybrid.
Giraffe are arguably the most fascinating animal in the world, from an evolutionary view they are extremely well adapted to their environment. For example, did you know that Giraffe have black/blue tongues to avoid getting sunburnt and their special system of veins in their neck stop them getting a rush of blood to the head when they bend down.
Grevy's Zebra.Also known as the Imperial Zebra, the Grévy’s Zebra is the most threatened species of Zebra in the world. There are now fewer than 3,000 Grévy’s Zebra remaining in the wild. Grévy’s zebra are the largest of the wild horse species weighing up to 450kg. They differ in appearance from the other two species of zebra, due to their mule like characteristics, in particular their long and narrow heads and large ears.
Grévy’s zebra are endangered with less than 3,000 left in Ethiopia and Kenya. There was once over 15,000 Grévy’s zebra found in East Africa but their numbers have plummeted due to poaching, habitat loss and disease. Grévy’s zebra are very vocal animals, producing numerous sounds and vocalisations. When they are alarmed they produce deep hoarse grunts. When agitated, they will produce whistling and squealing noises.
Kafue Flats lechweInto Africa is home to a herd of Kafue Flats Lechwe. This elegant antelope is distinguishable by its golden brown colour and white belly. Only found in the Kafue Flats area of Zambia, Kafue Flats lechwe have long elegant legs and huge dark eyes. It is only the male Lechwe that have beautiful swept back horns. Kafue Flats lechwe typically live in swampy floodplains, they are extremely well adapted for this habitat with hooves that spread wide, allowing them to move easily in swampy conditions.
Lechwe typically feed on grass and plant material around floodplains, because they spend so much time in and around water, they are very good swimmers and have been known to completely submerge themselves in water to avoid predation and search for food. Lechwe typically give birth to their young on dry land during the dry season, after a gestation period of 7-8 months.
Ostrich.Found throughout Africa, the Ostrich is the largest and heaviest bird in the world and can weigh up to 145kg, that’s as much as two adult humans! You can find both their Ostriches and Elvis the Emu in the Into Africa Reserve. Excellent at evading predators, ostriches have acute hearing and eyesight and can sense predators from miles away. If one did get into a bit of trouble with a predator, they have been known to run at speeds in excess of 40mph, being the fastest animal on two legs.
Not only are Ostriches fantastic at evading predators, they are also pretty good at defending themselves, their legs are very powerful and kicks from an ostrich have been known to kill lions. Contrary to popular beliefs Ostrich do not bury their heads in the sand, but when they see a predator they can’t outrun they place their head and neck close to the ground, from a distance this looks like their head is buried in the sand as their head and neck are a similar colour to the sand. Their diet consists mainly of plants, seeds and fruits however they do eat insects as well, because they lack teeth they swallow pebbles to grind food in their gizzard.
Common Eland.The world’s second largest antelope, the Common Eland can be found in East and Southern Africa. They have large majestic horns and beautiful black and white banding on their legs. The common eland stands at around 1.6m tall and can weigh up to 940kg!
Their diet consists mainly of grasses and leaves, and can conserve water by reducing their body temperature. They tend to live in herds of up to 500 animals. Eland herds are accompanied by a loud clicking noise, this is from their knee joints clicking to communicate dominance between individual eland.
An endangered species, it is thought that there are less than 500 Amur tigers left in the wild, however, their numbers have been much lower. Hunting had pushed these animals to the brink of extinction in the 1940’s, with only 40 remaining in the wild. However, the species was saved when Russia granted the Amur tiger full protection, since the 1940’s a significant amount of work has gone into the conservation of these magnificent animals. Land of the Tiger is world renowned and one of the largest tiger exhibits in Europe. The tigers have the space to roam which includes woodlands, grasslands, pools and waterfalls.
Native to East Russia and North East China, the beautiful Amur Leopard is the most endangered big cat in the world, it is thought that there are only 70 individuals left in the wild. Living and hunting alone, the Amur leopard is a very skilful hunter, stalking their prey to within a striking distance of a few metres.
Drake and Freya live in the Leopard Heights reserve, the ground breaking open top enclosure brings you eye to eye with the most endangered carnivore in the world. With its pioneering design, the spectacular reserve has an 8m tall viewing tower, giving an unrivalled experience and view of the Leopards of YWP. From the 100 sq. m viewing platform visitors come face to face with the leopards as they scale their 10m high climbing frames. At ground level of the 6,000 sq. m enclosure there is a viewing area with a 10m long glass wall to complete the spectacular creation, which is the largest leopard enclosure in the world.
The true wild Bactrian camel (much of the camel population in zoos and parks has a domestic camel influence and is not truly wild) has evolved independently from other camels so it is a distinct species and is in need of protection. They are only found in the deserts of Mongolia and China and there is thought to be less than a thousand left surviving in this harsh environment.
To live in this unforgiving habitat the wild Bactrian camel has evolved some remarkable adaptations which you can see by looking at our own camels. Probably their most noticeable adaptation is their two big humps, which contrary to popular belief do not store water but store fat as a reserve for when food is scarce, as their fat is depleted their humps become floppy. Another adaptation that you may see (if you come often enough) is their fur coat, because temperatures vary so much in their habitat (38°C in the summer and -29°C in the winter) they can grow thick coats in the winter and shed their coats ready for the summer.
Capybara. Closely related to guinea pigs, capybaras are very sociable animals and can be found in groups as large as 100 individuals. A rodent the size of a goat? The capybara is the largest rodent in the world! With partially webbed feet and big thick bodies, they are very impressive animals to look at. Their native habitat is the wetlands of South America, for this reason they spend a lot of time in the water and can remain submerged in the water for up to 5 minutes.
Typically living in groups of 10-20 individuals, capybara groups can consist of as many as 50-100 individuals in the dry season. They don’t look like the most agile creatures, but they have been known to run as fast as a horse. They are equally as agile in the water often entering the water to avoid predation, they can even sleep in the water, leaving their nostrils out the water to breathe.
Patagonian Mara. One of the most unusual looking rodents in the world, the Patagonian mara has long ears resembling a hare and a body resembling that of a small deer. Well adapted to running, mara have very powerful hind limbs, you will often see them hopping and racing around South America Viva. Looking like a cross between a huge rabbit and a small deer, the mara is the world’s fourth largest rodent. Mara can walk, hop, gallop and bounce on all four legs. They have been clocked at 45mph.
Mara are strictly monogamous and mate for life, typically having 1-3 offspring a year. Mara babies are very well developed when they are born usually grazing within the first 24 hours of their life. Patagonian mara display behavioural traits that are very unusual in the rodent family. They are very active during the day, spending long periods of time basking in the sun.
Azara’s Agouti. Named after the Spanish naturalist Félix de Azara, Azara’s Agouti are large rodents found throughout Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Agoutis are also rodents. They spend a lot of time hiding from predators in the rainforest. If a predator such as a jaguar approaches they may freeze, make an alarm call or raise the long hairs on its rump to scare the enemy away.
Azara’s Agoutis diet mainly consists of nuts, fruits and plant material and are though to be the only mammal that can open a brazil nut due to their exceptionally sharp teeth. Agouti’s are known as jungle gardeners because they often bury nuts and seeds, then forget where they put them, aiding plants and trees to grow. Azara’s Agoutis have a gestation period of around 90 days, typically 2-4 young are born in a burrow and will stay with their mother until they can fend for themselves to go and live a solitary lifestyle.
Giant Anteater. Giant Anteaters are solitary animals found in a variety of habitats in South America from grasslands to rain forest. Giant anteaters are one of the most unusual mammals with a long snout and tongue and large, powerful claws. These adaptations allow them to dig in to ant and termite nests and then using their long tongue lick up hundreds of ants or termites. They are insectivores and can eat up to 30,000 insects a day.
Their tongue is covered in backward-curving papillae which is coated in a thick sticky saliva, great for eating ants and termites! The Giant Anteater is classified as vulnerable, they are often killed in collisions with vehicles, hunted and populations have been reduced due to loss of habitat.
Six-Banded Armadillo. Located under the large oak tree with the Cotton Top Tamarins live rheir six-banded armadillos. Six-banded armadillos are typically 40-50 centimetres long and can weigh up to 6.5kg.
Armadillos are omnivorous which means they eat a variety of fruit, veg, insects and small animals. They can curl up in a ball, like a woodlouse, and their bony armour protects them from predators in the South American forests and savannahs. Primarily solitary, six-banded armadillos have very poor eyesight, relying on their keen sense of smell to detect prey and predators. They are extremely efficient diggers, and use burrows to live and search for prey. Six-banded armadillos will dig with their forefeet and sharp claws, flinging the soil behind them as they dig.
Working with YWPF, YWP is a partner in the development of an international centre for the conservation and rehabilitation of polar bears both in captivity and in the wild. The work will include the rescue of bears from substandard conditions around the world and working on improving polar bear welfare in zoos and parks. Working with Polar Bears International, Project Polar will work to support the conservation and welfare of wild bears.
The most noticeable thing about marsupials like wallabies is the females unique pouch, used to nurse their young, a joey will stay in its mum’s pouch, drinking her milk, until they are about six months of age. After six months of age they will come out of the pouch to hop around, but will continue to return to mum’s pouch until they can no longer fit. Wallabies have long powerful tails used to balance and prop themselves up in a sitting posture, their hind legs are also extremely powerful, used to bound along at high speed and can be used to kick predators and battle each other.
Endemic to Madagascar, Ring-tailed lemurs are easy to spot due to their long, striped black and white tails. Thought to have floated to Madagascar on rafts of vegetation millions of years ago, lemur’s like many of Madagascan species have evolved very differently to other animals around the world due to Madagascar’s isolation. A fun fact for all the ladies out there, it is actually the females that are dominant in lemurs.
Ring-tailed lemurs use their distinctive tails to to communicate with each other, they will also use them in “stink battles” by rubbing scents on their tails and flicking them at other lemurs. Ring-tailed lemurs spend a lot of their time on the ground (as you might notice when you are at the park) foraging for fruit, leaves, flowers, sap and tree bark to eat.
Guinea baboons inhabit a very small area in western Africa, their habitat includes dry forests, gallery forests and bush savanna, seasonally locating themselves near permanent water sources. The Guinea baboon reserve at Yorkshire Wildlife Park is designed to mimic the Guinea baboons natural habitat in western Africa, a natural habitat which is getting smaller and smaller. Due to their small range, Guinea baboons are now classified as “near threatened” by the IUCN.
Painted Dogs live in a pack led by a lead (alpha) female and male. Although there is a hierarchy, there is only a bit of aggression between the pack members. In fact bonds between pack individuals are so strong that the fittest pack members will hunt and provide food for the sick and elderly. Painted Dogs rely on cooperation to survive. Cooperation enables them to be one of the most successful predators in the world. On average they can catch their prey 80% of the time. These dogs are cursorial hunters meaning they pursue their prey in a long, open chase. They are cunning and stealthy hunters but rely on their incredible vision to locate prey such as wildebeest, impala or zebra. During the hunt dogs will communicate with each other using high pitched yapping calls.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park celebrated the birth of a litter of 7 painted dog puppies in November 2016. Thabo ignored the purpose built house and followed her natural instincts to dig the den in the woodland in their reserve so that she could hide her pups safely underground. Staff at the Park could only watch and wait for the puppies to emerge. The births are particularly significant after a sharp decline in Painted Dog numbers in the wild. In the past decade, wild populations have dropped from 500,000 to 5,000.
Meerkat. In their native habitat of Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa, there are a lot of animals that like to prey on meerkats, because of this they have evolved a unique way of avoiding being on the lunch menu. They will always have a “look out” or “sentry”, the sentry will spend long hours standing out in the open on their hind legs keeping an eye out for danger, you will frequently see our meerkats doing this throughout the day. If the worst happens and they do spot a predator, meerkats have a very complex range of vocalisations or noises, for example they use different alarm calls for different predators such as eagles, jackals and snakes.
Yellow Mongoose. Don’t take their cheeky faces for granted, mongoose are known for being “snake killers” and will even take on a full grown cobra. They utilise their thick bushy tails and a variety of different sounds to communicate. If they feel threatened they will growl, bark scream and purr. In their native home of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa, they are known to share their burrows with meerkats. The meerkats will quite happily keep them around as they are great at killing predators.
Alex can be identiﬁed by the white mark down her face and under her chin. She is 7 years old and is very food orientated – she will always be the ﬁrst over if there is food involved. Ori is younger than Alex, he is almost 3 years old. He arrived in October 2019 and soon settled in and is very confident and inquisitive. Both otters love trout but they are also fed on roach, tilapia and very occasionally salmon, very similar fish that they would hunt and eat in the wild. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation supports the conservation and protection of these endangered animals in their native Brazil.
Guests will embark on an epic 25 minute educational adventure through the incredible world of “Big Bugs”, from the deserts of South America to the African undergrowth. Be prepared to come face-to-face with some of Earths largest “Big Bugs”, exclusively at Yorkshire Wildlife Park! Show time is at 12.30pm at the Amphitheatre and lasts from 25 to 30 minutes.
*** – Visiting – ***
Yorkshire Wildlife Park (YWP) has on site car parking, with approximately 2,650 spaces. 120 spaces are reserved for blue badge holders only. The car park is a private car park so, once parked, you can bring your blue badge into the Park with you as proof of eligibility for their discounted rates.
If you are getting dropped off at YWP, there is a convenient drop off point right outside the main Safari Store. The main entrance to the park is through the Safari Store which has double-width, automatic doors. Once in the gift shop, the flooring is slabbed throughout. Alternatively, you can access the park via a pathway to the left of the Safari Store. This is level and paved.
The courtyard is level and paved throughout. The visitor Information Station is located to the immediate left as you enter the courtyard. There are two points of access to the Information Station; an access ramp with a shallow incline and steps to the right of the ramp. This building contains a lowered counter section.
There are 6 independent shops in the Courtyard area. They are all accessed via single-width doors. YWP staff are more than happy to assist where required. The courtyard is well lit with artificial lighting for evening events and in the winter months when sunlight is reduced.
YWP has 5 main eateries throughout the park, with additional snack bars open subject to visitor numbers. Safari Café is located towards the centre of the Safari Village courtyard and is free to enter without paying for entrance to the main park. Safari Café serves bistro food and is accessible via a double-width door. The upper level of Safari Café can be accessed by stairs within the café, or via the entrance to the toilets in the courtyard through two single width doors. The toilets can be accessed by the same route as Information Station. Monkey Playhouse Café is located inside the main park, immediately behind the entry ticket kiosks. Monkey Playhouse serves fast food and is wheelchair-friendly with two sets of double doors and a lowered counter. Staff are on hand to assist if needed. Access from the courtyard to Monkey Playhouse Café is level and paved.
Caramba is located in the centre of the park, to the left of the crossroads. Caramba café is an outside café serving South American food. Access to outdoor seating areas in Caramba! is via flat pathways. A central roofed area contains picnic benches with end space to accommodate wheelchair users.
Masai Café is situated at the far side of the Park near the Giraffe House, Land of the Tiger and Camels. It is a single storey café with two entrances, both with double doors. Staff are on hand to assist if required. Tsavo Lodge Bakehouse is a café in a large tent situated alongside Monkey Playhouse, serving in the style of a food court. It can be accessed via 5 sets of double doors and is slabbed throughout. The escape route is identified by timber barriers to direct users away from the tents supporting frame.
If you have any special dietary requirements, don’t hesitate to let a member of staff in the relevant cafés know and they will do their best to accommodate your needs.
Public toilets. Toilet facilities are located throughout the park and disabled toilets do not require a radar key for entry.
Paths. The majority of the pathways throughout the main park are level, with shallow gradients in areas. All pathways are accessible to wheelchair users. As it is an outside attraction, they do advise visitors to dress appropriately, i.e. sturdy shoes etc. A wheelchair wash is available at the Tsavo Lawn wash station.
There are some natural pathways around the Lemur Woods area, the Jungle Lookout Play Area and between Project Polar and Land of the Tiger. Signs are in position to give information about this. Seating and rest areas are located throughout the park.
Viewing. They have worked where possible to design animal enclosures so that the animals can be seen without looking through fences. For safety purposes their stand-off barriers are a minimum 1100mm in height, with mesh panel infills to allow for visibility. They have 3 walkthrough enclosures (Wallaby Walkabout, Lemur Woods and South American Viva) where animals and visitors are not separated. Paths in these areas are all level.
They have ground-level, glass viewing panes for the following enclosures/animal houses; Leopard Heights, Giant Otters, Meerkat and Mongoose Mansion, Visayan Warty Pigs, Lemur Woods, Giant Anteaters, Common Marmoset and Armadillos.
Assistance dogs. Assistance dogs are welcome throughout the park, except in animal walkthrough areas.
Manual Wheelchairs. A limited number of manual transit wheelchairs are available to borrow free of charge (subject to availability). If you would like to book a wheelchair for your visit please call their Visitor Services team on 01302 535057. If you would like to discuss accessibility for yourself or a member of your group, please do not hesitate to contact them by telephone on 01302 535057 or by email at email@example.com
Location : Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Warning Tongue Lane, Doncaster DN4 6TB
Transport: Doncaster (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 57 bus to Finningley from Stand A4 at the Frenchgate Centre, Doncaster to Branton village. Get off the bus just before the Post Office and the pedestrian access to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park is up Brockholes Lane which is opposite.
Opening Times : Daily from 10:00. Summer Season until 18:00; Winter Season until 16:00.
Tickets Summer Season: Adult £19.00; Senior/Student £17.00; Children 3-15 years £16.00
Tickets Summer Season Disabled: Adult £13.00; Senior/Student £11.00; Children 3-15 years £10.00; Carer £6.00
Tel: 01302 535 057