Isle of Man News - POSTED Thu 03-11-2011

End of an era at Wildlife Park after general manager retires

by Tessa Hawley

End of an era at Wildlife Park after general manager retires

THE general manager of Curraghs Wildlife Park has retired after almost a quarter of a century in the job.

 

Nick Pinder, 60, started in May 1987 and became the park's second manager following the death of Tom Kind who had run the park since it was created in 1965.


During his time as general manager Nick has served under three government departments, 13 politicians and nine ministers.


He also saw the 40 acre wetland park receive international recognition and become involved in international breeding programmes.

 

The park is a member of both the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) and the European equivalent EAZA. It has also been recognised as part of an internationally important wetland habitat the Ballaugh Curragh Ramsar site.


Nick explained: "There have been many developments since then but bringing the park into the international zoo community in the early 1990s was a significant one.


"The fundamental thing is making explicit to visitors the link between the Curraghs' ASSI Ramsar designation and the collection of animals within the park.


"We specialise in wetland species from around the world for our visitors to experience and learn from and it is wonderful reading their comments in the visitors' book to realise that many of them do appreciate what we're doing."

 

Nick, who studied at the University of East Anglia and the University College in London, cites two events as difficult times during his career.

 

These include 2001 when the wildlife park was forced to close during the foot and mouth disease period and 2002 when the red deer and lechwe antelope had to be destroyed after contracting TB from an untraced source.


Nick said: "We are only now replacing the deer with the arrival of a female elk from the Highland Wildlife Park to be introduced shortly. A male will follow from Whipsnade Zoo next year to build on our wetland wildlife theme."

 
The park has undergone significant investment in recent years and now boasts a meerkat enclosure and indoor and outdoor play areas.


Nick said he believes the park is a "vital asset" to the Isle of Man.


He explained: "The whole walk-through experience is still unusual in British animal collections.


"The enclosures are a bit different and with exhibits like the Life on Islands we are explaining crucial facts about biodiversity including why so much of it is rare.


"Overall I think the Wildlife Park is a vital asset for the Isle of Man. At international level it helps the Manx Government meet its international obligations in wildlife conservation and it provides a terrific resource for young families who otherwise would have no opportunity of becoming acquainted with wildlife short of going on expensive trips off Island."


Mike Ball, the director of leisure at the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure, said: "Everyone in the department appreciates the sterling efforts Nick has made over the years. For Nick this was always more than a job – it was a way of life. All of his colleagues past and present wish Nick and his wife Sue a long, happy and healthy retirement."


In retirement Nick plans to continue wildlife conservation in the Island with various groups that he is involved with including Manx Birdlife and the Manx Bat Group.

 

No announcement on who will take over from Nick has yet been made.

 

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