Wed, 09 May 2018
THE world-renowned UK Wolf Conservation Trust in Beenham will be closing its doors to the public this year.
Visitors to the popular sanctuary at Butlers Farm in Beenham have until August 31 to see the trust’s 10 wolves up close for the last time.
Director of the trust Tsa Palmer said: “After a great deal of thought and with much sadness we have decided not to renew our zoo licence in September and will revert to holding a Dangerous Wild Animals Act licence.
“Consequently, the trust will close its doors to Wednesday visitors and all public events with the wolves at the end of August.”
The trust was founded in 1995 by businessman and hunting enthusiast Roger Palmer, who wanted to dispel the myths and misconceptions surrounding the animals.
Encouraged and inspired by Dr Erich Klinghammer, the founder of Wolf Park in Indiana, Mr and Mrs Palmer formed the UK Wolf Conservation Trust in 1995.
Over the last 20-plus years, the trust has received 200,000 visitors and Mrs Palmer said that it had struggled to cope with the almost 12,000 visitors it received last year.
“As I approach retirement age and a quieter life, I have made this decision with a heavy heart,” she said.
“The wolves will remain in their enclosures, with sufficient funds saved over the years to care for them.
“Volunteers who know them will continue to walk and socialise them.
“My children Lara, Johnny and I will ultimately share the responsibility for their welfare.”
Mrs Palmer said that wolves Torak, Mosi, Mai and Motomo were reaching the “twilight years of their life” and deserved optimum care and attention.
The trust hit international news headlines earlier this year when Torak escaped from his enclosure.
He left the sanctuary and led sanctuary staff and police on a five-and-a-half-hour chase across eight miles of West Berkshire countryside on January 18.
He was safely recaptured unharmed by Mrs Palmer and a colleague near Curridge.
Mrs Palmer said that Torak was a little lame for a day and had a weepy eye following the adventure.
Donations for Torak soared following the international publicity, which also attracted new visitors to Beenham.
And the reason for Torak’s escape was “a deliberate act by an intruder”.
Mrs Palmer said that the large gate at the front of the enclosure had been left ajar and the padlocks were still in place.
She said: “It had been forced open in the night – levered so the bolts came out of the eyes that hold them.”
The trust has since upgraded its CCTV cameras and general security, along with donating £5,000 to Thames Valley Police Cadets as a gesture of gratitude to the force.
Mrs Palmer said she was very proud of the trust’s achievements, ranging from breeding the first European wolves in the UK for more than 350 years and importing the first Arctic wolves to the UK, to educating people and donating £355,000 to wolf conservation projects around the world.
She thanked all the staff, volunteers, members and visitors who had supported the trust and contributed to its success.
The trust’s website will provide regular updates on its wolves, but it will not be able to answer any emails from August 31.
Donations to the trust can be made via the trust’s website at https://ukwct.org.uk/