Exotic animals take trip on Heysham ferry

Lynx were transported to the Isle of Man on Ben-my-Chree.
Lynx were transported to the Isle of Man on Ben-my-Chree.
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Silvery Gibbons, two Lynx and two Capybara are some of the more unusual passengers which travelled on the Heysham to Isle of Man ferry this summer.

The animals, which travelled from Heysham to Douglas on Ben-my-Chree, were all bound for the Curraghs Wildlife Park.

They were the latest to be transported by the Steam Packet Company as part of its ongoing support for the park’s involvement in international exchange programmes to promote breeding and animal health.

The Silvery Gibbons, Nakula and Slamet, came to the Island from Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent.

It is an endangered species and it is hoped the pair will breed at their new home.

The two female Northern Eurasian Lynx, who have moved from Scotland, will replenish numbers of the species at the Wildlife Park; there used to be four Lynx at the park in Ballaugh, but only one of that group remains and she is now 19-years-old.

The female Capybara, from Safari Zoo near Dalton in Furness, will be companions for the park’s resident male, and it is hoped they will breed.

Park Manager Kathleen Graham said: ‘We coordinate and cooperate with other zoos in Europe to take part in conservation breeding programmes. We have to pay for the cost of transport between the member zoos and the fact that the Steam Packet Company gives us an assisted rate means that it is easier for us to play our part in these breeding programmes and, of course, provide a great quality visitor attraction for visitors and locals on the Isle of Man.’

She added: ‘Of course it is not only animals coming here, we also send animals across to Europe. This year we have sent Porcupine, Coati and Spectacled Owls to other zoo collections.’

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘The Wildlife Park is a wonderful attraction for visitors and locals alike, and we’re always pleased to support its important work assisting breeding and welfare programmes across Europe.’