WORD FROM THE WILD: The Latest News From The Park

Written by Lorah, Education and Activities Officer at Cotswold Wildlife Park

March 2023

The weather is slowly warming up and there are now signs of spring sprouting up across the Park. Some of the trees have begun to bud, the flower beds have a little pop of colour here and there and the daffodils are in full bloom as we head into the Easter holidays.

Wild daffodils at the Park

These distinctive yellow flowers are often associated with the sunshine and temperatures rising slightly as gardens slowly come back to life after the winter. They are quite remarkable plants, brought to Britain by the Romans who believed their sap contained healing properties. These days, extracts from the daffodil are used to help treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Daffodils are a sign of new beginnings, but they do have some other myths and meanings connected to them:

  • In ancient folklore, daffodils were thought to have magical properties and could protect a place from evil forces and help remove negativity.
  • If you receive a bunch of daffodils this is thought to be good luck, however it was believed that if you were gifted a single daffodil this meant misfortune was heading your way.
  • If you plant daffodils, be sure to plant them in an area where animals (particularly beloved pets) will not dig up the bulbs, as they can be poisonous if eaten.
  • In China, the daffodil symbolises good fortune and they are the official Chinese New Year symbol. In Japan, this flower means joy and in France they are a sign of hope.

Wild daffodils at the Park

Keep an eye out for our wild daffodil patches across the Park on your next visit.

In other news, the popular Adventure Playground area underwent some minor renovations this month, providing a reminder of the Park’s evolving landscape over the years since the gates first opened in 1970.

Over the last three decades, owner and Managing Director Reggie Heyworth has kept alive the vision established by his father and founder of the Park, Mr John Heyworth.

Mr Heyworth opened Cotswold Wildlife Park in 1970 with the impressive manor house, his family home, at the heart of the site. Surrounding the Manor House, the beautiful gardens and grounds span across 160 acres providing ideal spaces for a variety of enclosures. Hoping to give new life to the house and grounds that he loved so dearly, Mr Heyworth wished to share with as many families as possible his enduring interest in nature by creating a welcoming environment that could bring people ‘closer to wildlife’.

The manor house at Cotswold Wildlife Park

It really is wonderful that some visitors have been coming to Cotswold Wildlife Park since childhood and continue to visit, now bringing their own children and grandchildren to enjoy all that the Park has to offer. The Adventure Playground is a firm favourite for families, and whilst renovations and upgrades have taken place across the site over the years, Cotswold Wildlife Park manages to retain a nostalgic atmosphere for those that have been visiting throughout the last 53 years.

The old children's play park

In 2014 the playground underwent some big changes, adding the ‘Mini Manor’ and the expansive tree-top ‘Skymaze’. Then in 2021, during a Covid lock-down, the treehouse slide received a much-needed new staircase (as modelled by our talented Grounds team).

‘Skymaze’ is nestled 20 feet high and offers courageous children the chance to put their climbing skills to the test, to see what life is like among the trees. Be sure to stop by the Adventure Playground on your next visit and take advantage of the newest upgrades to these fantastic play spaces!


Finally, we welcomed some very important guests recently, as Flight Lieutenant and ‘Flight of the Giraffes’ event organiser Mark Scott, along with Flight Lieutenant Phoebe Valentine-Wood, paid us a visit to raise awareness for a very special campaign close to Mark’s heart.

On 19th April 2023, both Flt Lts Mark and Phoebe will fly 291 cuddly toy giraffes in a RAF Voyager KC MK2 from RAF Brize Norton in aid of ‘Flight Of The Giraffes’ (on behalf of ‘Giraffes on Tour’), raising funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Flight of the Giraffes with cuddle toy giraffes that will be onboad the flight.

Flt Lt Mark Scott said:  “The charity ‘Giraffes on Tour’ was set up in memory of a 9-year-old girl Louise Conway who was a patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital in 2013. During her stay she was never without her cuddly giraffe Geoffrey. After she passed away, friends and family of her father Ian Conway started flying cuddly giraffes in RAF aeroplanes and posting the photos and videos online.

Last year the charity was nominated for a Pride of Britain fundraising award, and I spotted the news item which really struck a chord; by coincidence I had been flying my daughter’s own cuddly giraffes with me on Voyager! I got in touch with Ian at ‘Giraffes on Tour’ with a crazy idea; suppose we could find 291 cuddly giraffes we’d be able to fill every passenger seat of a Voyager during one of our routine Air-to-Air Refuelling missions.

This is where the idea of ‘Flight of the Giraffes’ was born, and since then we have been trying to raise as much awareness of the charity and Louise’s story as possible… and find passengers for the flight on 19th April!”

Louise Conway Photo Credit: Giraffes on TourGeoffrey the Giraffe Photo Credit: Flight of the Giraffes

We wish all of the giraffes a safe flight and if you would like to find out more about the charity, please visit: https://www.giraffesontour.co.uk/flightofthegiraffes


Keep an eye on our social media pages throughout April, as our keepers will be hopping with excitement celebrating National Frog Month!

*Reminder*: Sunday 26th March 2023 marked the start of our summer opening times so please may we remind you that the Park is open daily from 10.00am and our closing time will change to 6:00pm, with last admission at 4:00pm – many thanks.

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens

Cotswold Wildlife Park and Gardens