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Captive humans go on display at North Yorkshire zoo

Posted on 9 August 2013

The University of York and Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo are teaming up to treat zoo visitors to a rare sight - the UK’s only captive group of Homo sapiens.

A captive human on display at Flamingo Land in 2011. Credit: Dr Andrew Marshall

For one week, the two male and two female humans will be on public display in a special enclosure at the North Yorkshire zoo. Feeding will take place at 1pm each day, while an education officer will provide insights into some of the interesting habits of the last surviving species of the Homo genus during tea provided to the humans at 3pm.

Dr Andy Marshall, Director of Conservation Science at Flamingo Land and a Lecturer in the University of York’s Environment Department, said: “Following this week’s news that the UK’s human population is increasing at a record rate, I am happy to say that our humans are not part of a conservation breeding programme, but this is still very exciting news for the zoo. The group of Homo sapiens, who will be living alongside our permanent animal collection, will be dressed in various African animal costumes and promoting the Udzungwa Forest Project (UFP) which uses education and research to help conserve tropical forests in Tanzania.”

All funds raised will go towards continuing the vital work of the Udzungwa Forest Project, which is working with schools and training local groups to reduce reliance on the forest for resources

Dr Andy Marshall

All the humans on display are Research Assistants with the Centre for the Integration of Research, Conservation and Learning (CIRCLE) – a jointly-funded initiative between the University of York’s Environment Department and Flamingo Land.

Together with the zoo’s popular meerkat mascots, Mia and Milo, the Homo sapiens will be raising funds for UFP from Sunday, 11 August to Saturday, 17 August, as well as organising fun and games, and face painting.

The Udzungwa Forest Project is centred on the Magombera Forest in Tanzania which contains globally important numbers of threatened species, which the CIRCLE institute is working to conserve.

Dr Marshall said: “All funds raised will go towards continuing the vital work of the Udzungwa Forest Project, which is working with schools and training local groups to reduce reliance on the forest for resources, and to generate sustainable sources of income directly related to forest conservation. Our Research Assistants are hoping to raise £5,000 through the human exhibit.”

Some of CIRCLE’s successes include:

  • Seven Tanzanian staff are now employed to protect, monitor, and trial methods for improving forest health;
  • 10,000 villagers have been trained in construction of fuel-efficient stoves, reducing reliance on the forest for resources and protecting its long-term sustainability;
  • As a result of project activities, village elders have developed a new bye-law urging all villagers to use fuel-efficient stoves in their homes;
  • Average tree diameter has increased by 5.1 per cent and biomass by 2.7 per cent at monitoring sites in Tanzania since 2005; five red-listed tree species have been propagated successfully in nurseries;
  • CIRCLE staff members have discovered three species new to science, including a chameleon and two trees.

Collection buckets will be available around the human enclosure. Donations can also be made at https://www.justgiving.com/ufp or by texting UFPF99 £1 to 70070 to donate £1.

Notes to editors:

  • The outstanding impact of CIRCLE’s conservation and educational work was recently rewarded with a national PraxisUnico Impact Award. More details at www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2013/research/business-collab/
  • The CIRCLE institute (Centre for the Integration of Research, Conservation and Learning) was launched in October 2010 and is part of the University of York’s Environment Department based at Flamingo Land. For further information on the Environment Department visit www.york.ac.uk/environment
  • Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo was founded in 1961 and today houses over 130 species of animals and over 50 theme park rides, including the Guinness world record-breaking ‘Mumbo Jumbo’, ‘Dino-Stone Park’, and the new ‘Hero’ ride. Flamingo Land is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria, and plays an active role in conservation and education both in the zoo, and in Tanzania through the park’s Udzungwa Forest Project. Anyone interested in volunteering to help with education and conservation can contact circle@flamingoland.co.uk. Flamingo Land holds a David Bellamy Gold Award for conservation and the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums Award for the Best Field Conservation Programme. Visit www.flamingoland.co.uk/park/zoo-and-conservation.html

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

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