Yorkshire Wildlife Park

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park, commonly referred to as YWP, is a wildlife park located in Cantley, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire, in England. It was built on a former riding school, which closed to the public in November 2008.

Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Yorkshire Wildlife Park Logo.png
Yorkshire Wildlife Park Waterfall.jpg
Yorkshire Wildlife Park
Date openedApril 2009
LocationCantley, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England
Coordinates53°30′17″N 1°02′30″W / 53.5047°N 1.0417°W / 53.5047; -1.0417Coordinates: 53°30′17″N 1°02′30″W / 53.5047°N 1.0417°W / 53.5047; -1.0417
Land area260 acres (110 ha)[1]
Annual visitors678,000 (2015)
MembershipsBIAZA,[2] EAZA[3]
Major exhibitsInto Africa, Lion Country, Land of the Tiger, Leopard Heights, Project Polar

Yorkshire Wildlife Park is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).


Road leading to the park

The Yorkshire Wildlife Park was built on land formerly occupied by the 260-acre (110 ha) Brockholes Farm Visitor Centre and Riding School, and currently occupies about 100 acres (40 ha) of the site.[1][4]

Cheryl and Neville Williams and business partner John Minion purchased the site in 2008[5] with funding from Lloyds TSB Commercial, private investment, and a Yorkshire Forward grant. The site was renovated over the 2008–2009 winter, and officially opened by Justin Fletcher, MBE (also known as Mr Tumble from CBeebies)[6] on 4 April 2009.[4]

In February 2010, the park rescued 13 lions from a Romanian zoo and, after their quarantine period, released them into the newly built 10-acre (4.0 ha) Lion Country enclosure.[7]

In 2011, the zoo opened Land of the Tigers, which contains two pools and a waterfall and was created next to a wetland reserve. Visitors view the tigers from a 150-metre (490 ft) long raised walkway, with the tiger enclosure on one side of the walkway and the wetlands on the other.[8]

In March 2012, the park opened Leopard Heights, a £300,000 open-topped enclosure that lets visitors view the Amur leopards from an 8-metre (26 ft) viewing tower or from ground level through a 10-metre (33 ft) long glass wall. The 6,000-square-metre (65,000 sq ft) enclosure is claimed to be the largest leopard enclosure in the world.[9]

In July 2014, the park opened a large enclosure for polar bears, named Project Polar, with the first bear being 500 kg male Victor; a second arrived in March 2015 called Pixel, who is Victor's grandson.

On 15 April 2015, Yorkshire Wildlife Park announced that one of its Amur tigers had given birth to three cubs on 29 March 2015.[10]

The park's popularity surged soon after its opening, starting in 2009 with only 66,000 visitors; it hosted 323,000 in 2011.[11]

Animals and exhibitsEdit

Lion CountryEdit

Lion Country was opened in May 2010 to house 13 African lions, which were acquired from Oradea Zoological Garden in Romania in February 2010. The lions had been kept in small enclosures and poor living conditions, and were in poor health as the Romanian zoo could not adequately care for them. Ten years on there are six lions in Lion Country: Simba, Maria, Carla, Crystal, Julie and Ares.[12]

Lemur WoodsEdit

Lemur Woods is a walk-through enclosure with many trees, housing groups of ring-tailed and red-bellied lemurs. The lemurs can often be seen climbing high in the trees, or sunbathing on the ground. Twice a day, visitors can stand and watch the keepers feed the Lemurs. They get very close - within touching distance - and it's one of the popular areas of the park.

Meerkat and Mongoose ManorEdit

Located close to the entrance to the park, this small exhibit houses the zoo's meerkats and yellow mongoose groups.

Into AfricaEdit

The centrepiece of the Into Africa zone is African Plains, a large multi-species paddock themed around the African savannah. Species in the enclosure include ostriches, a mixed group of Rothschild's giraffe and Reticulated giraffe, lechwe, grevy's zebra and common eland.

The giraffe group have a separate paddock for the winter months, with regular access to the much larger savannah themed exhibit.

Opposite is an enclosure for the critically endangered black rhinoceros. Themed around the scrublands of East Africa, the enclosure has space for two rhinos and features several mud wallows and a large, open grassland space.[13]

Land of the TigersEdit

Land of the Tigers houses three Amur tigers: three adults, named Sayan, Vladimir, and Tschuna. The enclosure features two pools and a waterfall, as well as a 150-metre walkway for visitors. The tigers can often be seen playing together or even climbing trees, which they seem to enjoy a lot.

Project PolarEdit

Opened in August 2014, Project Polar houses three male polar bears named Pixel, Nissan and Nobby. These are the only polar bears in an English zoo. The largest enclosure is ten acres in size and features two pools, the largest of which is eight metres deep and contains 25.5 million gallons of water. This is one of the largest polar bear enclosures in the world and the only zoo to house the species in England as of 2020.

South America VivaEdit

South America Viva is a walk-through enclosure displaying several South American species, including Patagonian mara, white-faced saki monkey, Azara's agouti and capybara. There are also separate enclosures housing six-banded armadillo, Venezuelan red howler, giant anteaters, cotton-top tamarins and giant otters, which are situated near a South America-themed restaurant called "iCaramba!".

Baboon ReserveEdit

Yorkshire Wildlife Park - Baboon Reserve

Opened in Easter 2013, the Baboon Reserve houses a troop of Guinea baboons which came from Edinburgh Zoo.

Leopard HeightsEdit

Leopard Heights houses two leopards Amur leopards:, named Drake and Freya. The enclosure is 6000 square metres in size, features climbing frames up to ten metres tall, and cost £300,000 to build.[14]

Hyenas of HararEdit

The first part of Yorkshire Wildlife Park's 2020 expansion to open, Hyenas of Harar is home to a breeding clan of Spotted Hyenas.[15]

Simien MountainsEdit

Opened in 2020, Simien Mountains is themed around the foothills of Ethiopia and is home to a large troop of Geladas.[15]

Himalayan PassEdit

The third 2020 expansion, Himalayan Pass, has a mountainous theme and includes exhibits for Red Pandas and a family of Smooth-coated Otters.[15]

Sea LionsEdit

In late 2020, YWP confirmed that a new colony of six California sea lions would be joining the collection in spring 2021, from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo as part of the ongoing expansion.[16]

Rehabilitation CentreEdit

The Rehabilitation Centre is an educational facility aimed at educating visitors on the park's global conservation efforts and rescue work focused on animals held in poor conditions in other collections. The Centre has exhibited several rescued species over the years in a series of large, temporary exhibits. The rescued species are often held until they can move elsewhere in the park, or until new homes in other zoos are found.

The first residents were four Ussuri Brown Bear rescued from a zoo in Japan. However, all four were elderly and in poor health upon their arrival and died within a year of coming to the park. The next resident was a fifth male Polar Bear, called Rasputin, who arrived in late 2019. Rasputin is soon to be moved to another zoo in Estonia to create a breeding pair with an eligible female there.

Other animalsEdit

Other notable animals in the park's collection include Bennett's wallabies, African wild dogs, visayan warty pigs, Bactrian camels, okapi, roloway monkey, african spurred tortoise, emu, kirk's dik-dik and various species of birds, reptiles and invertebrates featured in handling and educational displays.


  1. ^ a b "Yorkshire Wildlife Park, near Doncaster". www.yorkshireattractions.org. Yorkshire's Magnificent Attractions. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  2. ^ "BIAZA Zoos and Aquariums". biaza.org.uk. BIAZA. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  3. ^ "EAZA Member Zoos & Aquariums". eaza.net. EAZA. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Yorkshire Wildlife Park". BBC News Online. BBC. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  5. ^ "New wildlife park for Doncaster". www.investindoncaster.co.uk. Invest in Doncaster. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  6. ^ "Justin Fletcher - Declares the Yorkshire Wildlife Park open" (YouTube video). YWPL (Yorkshire Wildlife Park). 4 April 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  7. ^ Dilger, Mike (19 February 2010). "Yorkshire Wildlife Park". BBC News Online. BBC. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
  8. ^ "Land of the Tigers". www.landofthetigers.co.uk. Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Archived from the original on 18 June 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Yorkshire Wildlife Park officially unveils Leopard Heights". Thorne and District Gazette. 28 March 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Remarkable footage of endangered tiger cubs born at Yorkshire Wildlife Park". Doncaster Free Press. 15 April 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Mayors visit award winning Yorkshire Wildlife Park on its 3rd birthday after record year". www.yorkshireattractions.org. Yorkshire's Magnificent Attractions. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
  12. ^ "Lion Country | Animals". Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Yorkshire Wildlife Park charge ahead to save critically endangered black rhino". Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  14. ^ "Leopard Heights | Animals". Yorkshire Wildlife Park. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  15. ^ a b c "Park Map". Retrieved 10 August 2020.
  16. ^ "A colony of Sea Lions are preparing to make Yorkshire Wildlife Park their new home". Yorkshire Wildlife Park. 23 September 2020. Retrieved 25 September 2020.

External linksEdit