Save Ventura Wildlife Park from closure
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WHO WE ARE
Ventura Wildlife Park is a community-based wildlife park located within the grounds of the Van Hage Garden Centre in Great Amwell on the outskirts of Ware, Hertfordshire. We are home to over 45 different species of wild animals including a number who have been rescued and rehomed. This includes species that cannot be seen in any other UK zoo or wildlife park, including the Cuban Hutia and Red Rumped Agouti.
Conservation and education are incredibly important to us. We participate in a number of breeding and conservation initiatives including the European Endangered Species Programme for the fossa and mongoose lemur. We are also institutional members of the International Zoo Educators Association and regularly host educational visits for school, college and university students from across Hertfordshire, Essex, Greater London and beyond. Our research projects into wildlife conservation, enrichment and tourism link us to a number of educational establishments including the University of Hertfordshire and Writtle College, Essex.
Ventura Wildlife Park has been created with the community at its heart and has been designed and built using the latest in sustainable and environmentally friendly techniques and materials. Our goal is to provide access to wildlife and the great outdoors for people of all ages and abilities. We have welcomed over 45,000 visitors since opening in July 2016 and want this number to continue to grow. We have received tremendous support from local community groups and we want to continue to provide an unrivalled experience.
WHY WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT
The park opened on the 1st July 2016 and is located on land which previously formed part of the Van Hage Garden Centre's existing zoo. Prior to Ventura Wildlife Park obtaining the land, it had housed a range of larger animals including llama, alpaca, reindeer, donkeys and rhea for over 30 years and was covered by a full zoo licence from East Herts Council. The zoo licence was transferred over to Ventura Wildlife Park in June 2016 after inspection by East Herts Council and their independently appointed experts; the International Veterinary Group.
A few days prior to the park opening, our Director received an email from East Herts Council Planning Department suggesting the zoo had no planning permission and needed to close. A retrospective planning application was submitted using a local planning consultant and was refused on the grounds of the Wildlife Park being built on green belt land. We feel this is unjust considering what the land had previously been used for, and the fact that the majority of zoos in and around London are located on green belt land.
An appeal was made against the council’s refusal, during which time East Herts Planning Department still decided to place an enforcement notice against the park. We are disappointed that throughout this process, the council planners have only spared 10 minutes of their time to visit the park, despite strong support from the local district councillor and the Mayors of Ware and Hertford.
We are now looking to submit an amended planning application to save the park and its inhabitants but East Herts Council Planning Department have refused to meet with our Director and will not remove the live enforcement notice. This means that even when we submit our amended application, we will still face legal enforcement against the park. As a result, this petition has been created to demonstrate the overwhelming support which exists for the park and its importance within the local community.
If Ventura Wildlife Park is unfairly forced to close it will have devastating consequences upon the local community, the county’s tourism offering, our team, wildlife conservation and the animals that call the park their home. The park, including the shrubs and trees planted, bird and bat boxes and our education centre, will have to be demolished and animals may need to be euthanised if homes cannot be found in time.
Ventura Wildlife Park is owned Ashley Palmier a local graduate from Hertfordshire and supporter of wildlife conservation and tourism. Ashley is one of the youngest Zoo Directors in the country and has worked tirelessly with the help of family, friends and local supporters to create a zoo for the community. He is a particularly strong advocate of tourism in Hertfordshire and has long supported the county, having worked voluntarily on a number of local tourism projects.
Please show your support for our park by signing and sharing our petition and let’s hope that together we can continue to be a hub for wildlife conservation and education.
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