Guy Opperman, Member of Parliament for Hexham Constituency, has visited Northumberland College’s Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens and officially opened a brand-new animal enclosure.
Guy was welcomed by zoo staff on Friday and enjoyed a tour of the zoo's newest enclosures and animals, concluding with officially opening the zoo's Rainbow Lorikeets enclosure, a species of parrot originally found in Australia.
During his visit, Guy received a tour of the zoo's new Civet enclosure, home to Teemo the Civet, a slender nocturnal carnivorous mammal with a barred and spotted coat, native to Africa and Asia.
Guy also visited the zoo's four new common squirrel monkeys, who arrived form Budapest Zoo last month.
Animal Resource Centre Manager at Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens, Steven Sykes said: "We are thrilled to have had Guy Opperman officially open our brand-new Rainbow Lorikeet enclosure, which is one of the largest walk through enclosures in the UK.
"We are very proud of all our brand-new enclosure purpose built to suit enclosures here at Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens. A lot of time and effort has been spent ensuring these are all to high standards for the new arrivals and are equipped with plenty of exciting interactive items to keep the animals stimulated and safe, such as indoor and outdoor swinging perches, interactive rope swings, suspended branches and naturalistic planting."
Guy Opperman has visited Kirkley Hall and its Zoological Gardens several times since the zoo opened in 2011, speaking with students and staff as well as the College's Principal, Marcus Clinton.
He said: "I was delighted to be asked to open Kirkley Hall's brand-new Rainbow Lorikeet enclosure, which will serve as a fantastic home for these beautiful birds. Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens offer a great family day out, whilst doing important conservation work, and I thoroughly recommend a visit."
The Kirkley Hall campus trains over 500 students each year in subjects ranging from equestrian performance and animal management to horticulture and environmental conservation.
An Ofsted inspection that was carried out in May, praised the college for its clear vision to deliver high quality learning and its findings confirmed the college as one of the best in the region.
The campus offering has expanded this year with the introduction of Northumberland Career College, an innovative learning model for 14 to 19 year-olds that combines academic studies with practical learning and work experience.
The College now offers over 30 higher education qualifications ranging from HNC to Degree level, working in partnership with leading universities and this year and this year, has built on its partnership with Newcastle University that offers Foundation Science Degrees in Animal Management, Equestrian Performance and Coaching, Horticulture and Arboriculture.
More HE courses have been approved and will be introduced from September 2017. These include BSc (Hons) Animal Management and BSc Top-Up degrees in Agriculture, Rural Tourism and Enterprise Management and Environmental Conservation validated by the University of Cumbria.
Kirkley Hall Zoological Gardens opened in 2011 and over the past three years has expanded and is now home to over 200 species, which include Ring Tailed Lemurs and the attraction now welcomes over 70,000 visitors per year.
Students gain hands-on experience as zookeepers, visitor hosts as well as benefitting from a free travel scheme for 16-18s.
The campus also offers a full range of employer training from Apprenticeships to short courses that include Floristry, Chainsaw Use, Dog Grooming and more.
As well as the zoo, facilities at the campus, which spans a 190-acre estate include a working farm, equestrian centre, new workshops for maintenance of agricultural machinery, for arboriculture and for a base to state-of-the-art farm planning and analysis software, plus there is an upland farm in the Cheviot Hills, Carlcroft Farm.
Since December 2012, the college has invested over £14million in new facilities at its Ashington, Kirkley Hall and Berwick.
Latest developments coming soon to Kirkley Hall include The College's Equestrian Centre undergoing a total £1.2M refurbishment, to create a new indoor arena with pro wax surfacing, American Barn style stables and new classroom facilities.
Those who wish to enrol on to a course at Kirkley Hall can do so now, as its summer enrolment runs until Saturday, 2 September.
For details of admission and opening times visit www.kirkleyhallzoo.co.uk.
For information about courses in Animal, Equine, Agriculture, Horticulture and Veterinary visit www.kirkley.ac.uk.