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Rutland Zoo opened at Rutland Water this morning (May 17) after the former Bugtopia centre was taken over by new owners




An animal attraction at Rutland Water reopened under new management this morning (Monday, May 17)

The former Bugtopia centre has been taken over by an animal rescue team from Corby who have re-branded the attraction as Rutland Zoo.

They had hoped to open on January 1 but the coronavirus lockdown put things on hold.

Mila Kean, Joshua Spary and Joanna Aldwinckle with Bean, the Argus monitor lizard at Rutland Zoo
Mila Kean, Joshua Spary and Joanna Aldwinckle with Bean, the Argus monitor lizard at Rutland Zoo

But the doors finally opened at 10am this morning with a team of knowledgeable staff on hand to show off the new residents.

Owner Joanna Aldwinckle said: "It is great to be finally open after all this time.

“The zoo was gifted to us by Bugtopia and we are determined to carry on their incredible work.

Erick, a yellow anaconda, at Rutland Zoo
Erick, a yellow anaconda, at Rutland Zoo

“We are absolutely honoured that they trusted us with their baby, and we want to make them proud that they made the right choice.”

Joanna will run the zoo with her husband Jez and their close friends Richard Munden and Vanessa Ainsworth.

They set up the Midlands Giant Species Snake Rescue five years ago which re-homes reptiles.

Although their hobby is focused on snakes, Rutland Zoo will showcase a range of reptiles, mammals and birds.

Mila Kean with Bean
Mila Kean with Bean

Among the newcomers are caiman crocodiles and a monitor lizard called Bean.

The zoo is based at Sykes Lane in Empingham.

A government grant enabled the team to install a new roof, and they have added new vivariums and enclosures for the new exhibits.

Future plans include an enclosure for monkeys and an exotic petting farm.

Joanna added: "It will be a petting farm with a twist. We hope to have things like exotic chickens and giant rabbits."

Animal encounters will be re-introduced as coronavirus restrictions are lifted, alongside plans to welcome art and photography groups.

Rutland Zoo is open daily between 10am and 5pm.

Weekend visitors should book in advance but drop-ins are welcome on weekdays.

During May admission is £5 per person, payable in cash. Under threes are free.



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