East Midlands-based AM2 Architects has revealed plans for extensive new facilities at Wolds Wildlife Park in Horncastle, Lincolnshire – featuring jungle-like canopies, glass walkways, elevated viewing galleries and even a ‘Yoga with the Bears’ enclosure.
The expansion project, which received planning permission in August, sees AM2 Architects work in conjunction with Louth-based For-Ward Planning Consultancy and East Lindsey District Council to develop the masterplan for the wildlife park; which includes improvements to the existing space and plans to accommodate a larger variety and number of animals.
Wolds Wildlife Park has an interesting back-story when back in 2013, animal lovers Andrew Riddel and Tracy Walters started rehoming animals from the circus as well as rehoming animals from zoos at their home in Horncastle. The pair really began from a standing start; creating the enclosures by hand and catering for the animals’ various needs. With passion and determination, the wildlife park was born.
Following growing interest from local residents, Tracy and Andrew started spending their weekends showing passers-by around the park – reassuring guests that public safety and animal welfare were of the utmost importance to them.
The new expansion project will bring to life Tracy and Andrew’s dream to take the park to the next phase – creating a complete zoological park with species-specific enclosures, and interactive spaces for visitors to enjoy.
AM2 Architects has drawn on inspiration from leading wildlife parks around the world to develop the concept design; which includes a giraffe enclosure with an elevated viewing gallery – giving visitors the chance to see eye to eye with the world’s tallest mammals – and leopard and lion enclosures separated by glass walkways to allow big cat lovers to walk straight into the lion’s den.
For a chance to connect with nature on a deeper level, visitors will be able to strike the balancing bear pose and take part in a ‘Yoga with the Bears’ class. This truly wild experience will offer yoga practice just a few steps away from the enclosure of the bears, who are known to love interaction with the public. It is also a unique form of positive enrichment for the animals.
Jonathan Metcalfe, director at AM2 Architects, said: “We’re very proud to be working on such an exciting and unusual development.
“Our highest priority when designing the spaces was the needs and welfare of the park’s residents and marrying that with best practice from wildlife parks around the world. By listening to Tracy and Andrew’s incredible vision, we believe we have created something very special.
“Everything is coming together with the first phase now complete and the construction of phases two and three due to commence later this year. We are looking forward to the journey of bringing Andrew and Tracy’s vision to life – creating a place of wonder and learning for generations to come”.
The final phase three of the development, which aims to be complete by 2022, includes a brand-new main building for the park, complete with a gift shop and restaurant featuring impressive canopy-like structures as its roof, to mimic the appearance of jungle trees and provide shaded areas beneath for guests, as well as offering views over the landscaped park, its animals and the lakes.
A new education centre will accommodate school visits, provide areas for learning activities and workshops for children as well as offer function rooms for events and even weddings. The centre’s design is based on the instantly recognisable ‘big top’ circus tent, as a reminder that many of the animals in the zoo are rehomed from circuses.
Further plans as part of the development include four separate units for use by local businesses, all with independent access allowing flexible operation times.
Tracy Walters and Andrew Riddel, owners of Wolds Wildlife Park, said: “Since the beginning of the project, we have been overwhelmed with local community support, which has really given us the drive to work around the clock to put Horncastle back on the map.
“It is our aim to work with local businesses, schools and colleges to support the area, and create new job opportunities, educational facilities for learning, and a place for those with long-term illnesses to visit and enjoy.
“We feel we have the best team on-board to make our dream a reality, and it is a pleasure to work alongside AM2 Architects – they have amazing ideas for the park and we could not do this without them.”
Portfolio Holder for Market Towns and Rural Economy, Councillor Adam Grist, said: “This is an exciting project and an excellent opportunity for growth in the local economy. East Lindsey District Council is pleased to continue its work with Mr Riddel and Ms Walters towards obtaining a zoo licence in the future.”
Wolds Wildlife Park currently holds six open days per year to welcome visitors.
AM2 Architects works on residential and commercial projects throughout the East Midlands and nationwide, including contemporary and historic, listed building, conservation projects, feasibility studies, new builds and refurbishments of all scales and sectors.