2023: A Year in Photos

December 31, 2023

A close up of a mountain bongo calf's head and large ears

Happy New Year’s Eve! We can’t believe another year has flown by already and 2024 is just around the corner. Take a walk with us down memory lane as we look back and reflect on some of our favourite moments from the last year here at the zoo. You can catch up on all this and more on our Zoo News page here.

Our floppy-eared new arrival!

A Critically Endangered mountain bongo, born to parents Canela and Ituri on 30 January 2023 (photo above). The bongo calf, named Kora, has thrived, with mother Canela doing a great job of attending to her new charge. In the wild, mountain bongos are found in four distinct areas of Kenya where they live in forests and highlands.

Incredibly rare birth wows zoo guests

A newborn addax calf sits on the floor on its enclosure

Guests got to witness the birth of a Critically Endangered addax calf when mother, Amelie, went into labour back in March. The male calf, named Hanza, was born shortly after 12:30pm in our Arid Lands exhibit, opposite the meerkats. Guests were able to watch the incredibly rare birth through the viewing window. In the wild, addax have been hunted to near extinction, with their meat, horns and hide prized by hunters and their habitat eroded as a result of oil exploration and cattle farming.

Marwell welcomes Alan Titchmarsh MBE

Alan Titchmarsh MBE paid a visit to Marwell Zoo for the formal presentation of our Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development. Mr Titchmarsh attended in his capacity as Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Hampshire, along with fellow Deputy Lieutenant Simon Tufnell on Tuesday 14 March.

He explained that only 7 such awards were given in Hampshire in 2022, an achievement he said the county of Hampshire is proud of.

We announced new animal experiences

A serval looking up at Marwell Zoo serval experience

Joining our giraffe and penguin experiences, we announced that you can now get closer to our Amur tiger or snow leopard, go behind the scenes with our birds, primates or Tropical House teams and enjoy a Small Carnivore Experience with our serval and mongoose or meerkats!

Each of the experiences has been tailor made to offer incredibly exciting opportunities to get closer to our animals, learn all about them from our keepers and make the kind of memories that will be cherished for a lifetime.

Dik dik calf: a first for Marwell

A Kirk's dik dik calf stands behind small rocks at Marwell Zoo

We are thrilled to have welcomed a tiny dik-dik calf. This is a first for Marwell as the species has not previously bred at the zoo. These tiny antelope are native to Africa where they thrive in arid savanna habitats, riverine woodland and rocky hills. The calf has been named Mdalasini which means “cinnamon” in Swahili.

Tiny boost for previously extinct Przewalski’s horse

A rare Przewalski’s foa joined our harem in the valley field in April. These horses were extinct in the wild from 1969 until 2008, so the birth is exciting for the Endangered species. The new arrival foal was born to mother, Tsetseg and father Nogger on Saturday 15 April and is reported to be doing well.

Our new birds of prey

A caracara bird at marwell zoo perching on a branch

In May, we announced our new Southern Caracara pair. Setting them apart from many of their close falcon relatives, they spend much of their time on the ground. They are strong runners because of their long legs and often pursue prey on the ground.

Guests will be able to find these intriguing birds at the top of the park, just past Okapi playground.

Hey Duggee and Bluey and Bingo visit Marwell

Bluey and her little sister Bingo, from the much-loved children’s TV show Bluey, visited Marwell in July and August. Hey Duggee, a favourite with children and adults alike, took a break from running Squirrel Club to visit Marwell in August too!

New accessible play area

Toddlers play with the telescope on the new playground at Marwell Zoo

This summer, we welcomed a new accessible play area for young children! The equipment, which will mainly be made from recycled materials, will encourage children from the age of two, to use their imagination whilst learning important social skills.

The structure is fitted with wheelchair access ramps and there are a variety play opportunities designed to encourage creative sensory play. The new apparatus will replace the equipment previously located in the sand pit outside Bushtucker Bites in the Fur, Feather and Scales area of the zoo.

Three little piglets!

Mother Lisala and father Kermit welcomed triplets in July! The triplets, who have much more vivid markings than their parents, can be found in the red river hog habitat alongside both parents and older brother Matonda. Piglets, also known as hoglets, have rows of yellow dots and lines on their dark coats as well as elongated ears that will grow distinctive tufts of hair. These tufts earned them the nickname “tufted pigs”!

Safeguarding the future of endangered tigers

Credit Shutterstock Khanthachai

Marwell Wildlife has launched a pioneering conservation project to help safeguard the future of endangered tigers in Bhutan. Buddhist scriptures and other texts, art, and practices will be interpreted, documented and showcased to reconnect people with their heritage and ensure they continue to be shared for generations to come. Modern approaches to nature’s recovery for tigers and people will compliment this and run alongside.

Thanks to a legacy donation to Marwell, this innovative project has been made possible through the insight and creativity from Buddhist scholars and conservationists in Bhutan. We anticipate this model for modern tiger conservation will be used in neighbouring countries and for other species in the future. 

Bush dogs are here & our new mischief maker

A grevy's zebra foal frolicking at just one day old at Marwell Zoo

We’re up to August now, when we welcomed a pack of bush dogs to the zoo and an Endangered Grevy’s zebra foal.

The pack of one male and three female bush dogs arrived from Yorkshire Wildlife Park on Tuesday 8 August. Tiny Tim, Sofia, Emilia and Isabella, are a group of six-year-old siblings that have come to Marwell as a family group.

The new Grevy’s zebra arrival, born to mother Ellen and father Angus, arrived early in the morning of Tuesday 29 August. Keepers turned up for work on Tuesday morning to find the new arrival still wet, having very recently been born.

A new arrival in the lead up to World Okapi Day

An okapi calf born at Marwell Zoo in July 2023

We celebrated the lead up to World Okapi Day by announcing a very special new arrival who had been settling in at Marwell Zoo behind the scenes.

On 21 July our female okapi, Daphne gave birth to an endangered okapi calf. These animals are instinctively nervous and secretive so the pair had been bonding behind the scenes. At Marwell, our animals are part of an international breeding programme to increase numbers and ensure a genetically diverse back up population should it be needed in the future.

We won a WAZA Conservation Award

A group photo of some of the staff at Marwell Zoo in 2023

Marwell Wildlife has been honoured by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) during its prestigious annual conference event, which was held in San Diego. During the conference, Marwell was announced as the winner of this year’s WAZA Conservation Award recognising the charity’s dedication to conservation over five decades! In particular it is a tribute to our work re-establishing scimitar-horned oryx back in their habitats in Tunisia.

We would like to thank all of our partners, zoo guests and supporters for making this incredible work possible.  Without your donations, visits, purchases and support, we couldn’t continue important work like this.

Snow leopard habitat extension

Snow Leopard Panthera Uncia Marwell Zoo 1

In October, we celebrated 10 years of International Snow Leopard Day and a decade of efforts to safeguard one of the world’s most elusive threatened big cats. In 2013, the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) was set up to bring 12 snow leopard range countries together.

Marwell’s Director of Conservation, Professor Philip Riordan was one of the founders of GSLEP and he has worked with snow leopards in their natural habitats for 17 years.

We also announced our campaign to raise £20,000 towards an exciting new extension to our existing snow leopard habitat at Marwell Zoo. The work will double the size of our snow leopard’s home and enable us to consider breeding or housing a family group in the future.

The cutest “Pumpkin” in the patch

A banteng calf at Marwell zoo

The new banteng calf, born to mother Dewi and father Henky on Halloween, is a sister for Raya who was born at Marwell in November 2022. Keepers chose to name her Pumpkin to reflect her birth date on the spookiest day of the year – October 31.

Back from the brink of extinction

A group of scimitar-horned oryx in Tunisia

In November, we celebrated after long-term conservation efforts have helped bring the scimitar-horned oryx back from the brink of extinction.

The species was declared Extinct in the Wild in 2000 but has today been downlisted to Endangered in the IUCN Red List thanks to conservation efforts from partners around the world, including Marwell Wildlife.

Glow Marwell returned with double the sparkle!

A Ghost caribou lantern costume stands in front of a lit-up Marwell Hall at Marwell Zoo's Glow Marwell event

Back for its second year, and with double the sparkle, more than half a million lights, snow galore and brand new illuminations, Glow Marwell launched for 2023 in November!

Thank you to everyone who visited for our spectacular event – every penny spent contributes to supporting our animals here at the zoo, and our conservation work worldwide.

Safeguarding the future of one the world’s most endangered mammals

A grevy's zebra wearing a GPS tracking collar in Kenya

We’re helping to protect the world’s most endangered zebra ahead of a major infrastructure project that will cut across the heart of their habitat in Kenya. Conservationists from Marwell Wildlife, who own and operate Marwell Zoo, are using GPS collars to monitor 20 Grevy’s zebra in Northern Kenya to collect data which will safeguard the future of the species.

The project, in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service and the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, will track the zebra for one year to find out how they move around their range.

Thank you!

We’d also like to say a massive thank you to our staff and volunteers, plus everyone who has visited, purchased adoptions, memberships, and more, or fundraised for us throughout the year! We’re grateful to be part of your community for more than 50 years – Here’s to a wonderful 2024.