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Family favourite kept in prime condition through pandemic crisis

The much loved animals in Swansea's popular Plantasia are in good hands during the pandemic.

PlantasiaJuly2020

The facility, managed by Parkwood Leisure for Swansea Council, is being kept in prime condition thanks to ongoing work by Parkwood staff.

Expert care is being given to the eye-catching glass building, its animals and its exotic greenery. Like zoo-style attractions across Wales, Plantasia is temporarily closed in line with government restrictions.

General manager Anthony Williams said: "Plantasia is temporarily closed to the public but we can't shut up shop and walk away.

"Our animals and greenery need caring for so a small specialist team has remained on site to look after more than 160 animals and thousands of plants.

"We're keeping Plantasia - and everything within it - in excellent condition in readiness for the future when it's safe to reopen to the public.

"We've made great strides with the facility that we've been managing on behalf of the council and public for more than a year.

"The £1.1m improvement package funded by the council and invested by Parkwood Leisure has brought an exceptional new look and attractions to the venue - and the feedback we've had from visitors, including families, schools and businesses, has been tremendous, seeing visitor numbers well up on last year.

"We continue to work hard to look after the animals and plants and to maintain the building, completing safety checks and ensuring security. We'll ensure that Plantasia is clean, safe and has measures in place to ensure our customers feel confident to use it in the future.

"The public can be certain that Plantasia will be ready to once again to offer them the best in city centre fun and education."

Whilst zoos in Wales cannot reopen yet, Plantasia has ongoing costs such as animal care, with little income.

During closure staff have developed a number of new ways to attract income. They include children's activity packs, animal adoption packs, virtual Plantasia tours and a sponsored cycle to boost their animal care fund.

Support has come come from a wide range of sources including Welsh sports stars such as Joe Calzaghe, Colin Charvis, James Hook and Manchester United star Daniel James. Swansea City FC and the Ospreys have also helped.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council's cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: "I applaud the efforts being made to keep Plantasia in prime working order. It may be temporarily closed but it will still be here for Swansea when the country gets through this crisis.

"The council's partnership with Parkwood Leisure is strong and we're pleased to have funded significant improvements. They help put the facility in a good position for the years to come."

Daily tasks being undertaken on site to maintain the correct environment for the animals and plants include three hours of watering plants, animal feeding, enclosure cleaning, temperature regulation and safety checks.

Temporary closure has given staff the chance to allow some of our animals to explore. They regularly take Haku, a large water monitor lizard, out of its enclosure for walks around the jungle.

The bearded dragon lizards have moved in with Plantasia's endangered Egyptian tortoises. They happily share a home.

In the words of Plantasia general manager Anthony Williams

Rainbow the macaw

"Rainbow's a long-standing member of the Plantasia collection; more like a member of the team!

"She loves attention and - more than most - has missed our visitors.

"To combat this, we've moved her to a communal space where she has more contact with those working here each day.

"During lockdown, we've improved her enclosure to give her a better home when she returns.

"Our new Adopt an Animal packs help raise funds for animal care - and Rainbow has proved to be one of the most popular of adoptees.

"She's also proved to be a bit of a beacon for us, linking to the nationwide rainbow campaign. Many of the public created pictures of our Rainbow for us to display in our front window. That was an amazing gesture and we thank them very much!"

Nala and Aneurin, the Asian leopard cats

"These are the newest of our animals and will be big stars!

"Nala joined us from Folly Farm late last year, when she was only six months old.

"She was shy so few visitors actually got to see her in the few months before lockdown.

"However, her younger brother joined her two days before temporary closure - and he's been great company for her.

"The addition of Aneurin has given Nala great confidence to explore and become accustomed to her surroundings. 

"The quietness has also helped, and she'll be far more confident and playful in front of returning guests.

"Her brother got his name in a public competition. Aneurin's a very apt choice as he was named after Aneurin Bevan, the Welsh founder of our amazing NHS."

Onesie and Joe, the meerkats

"Definitely one of the favourites here, they're missing the public interaction - although they haven't lost their playfulness and cheekiness.

"Our manager can testify to that as he experienced a harmless bite from Joe. Apparently, it's 'playing' amongst meerkats!

During closure we've also engaged with many groups offering virtual tours. The meerkats have been the stars of the show.

They're also dealing with a small invasion of native sparrows who have moved into their area. Feeding time is definitely a competition now!

During routine maintenance, Onesie also decided to liberate herself into another part of Plantasia. However, she soon realised that her enclosure was better than the real world; she quickly returned!" 

More: www.plantasiaswansea.co.uk/centre/Plantasia/support-us

Photo: Rainbow the macaw at Plantasia.

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