Where? Wildwood Devon,
Ottery St. Mary, EX11 1LU
Cost? £125 or £195 for two
(park entry included)
Age: 12 years+
Go Here… Bear Feeding Encounter
Meet Mish and Lucy – two energetic brown bears enjoying rehabilitation here in East Devon.
Their playful relationship and rich 1.5-acre enclosure – not to mention Lucy’s adorable teddy-bear face – have propelled these young cubs into huge popularity at Wildwood Devon since their arrival in 2021.
While watching them go about their day from the elevated viewing platform is a sight to behold, a chance to get up close with a private ‘Meet the Bears Experience’ is something special.
Visitors are welcomed ahead of opening time to feed Mish and Lucy their breakfast, and learn more about the bears face to face.
Although Mish and Lucy now live happily in their stimulating, new environment where they can forage, explore and play, as we made our way to their new home, we heard their sad origin story.
Alone and afraid, the brother and sister bear cubs were discovered in a snowdrift in the mountains of Albania. It’s thought the family were caused to flee the forest due to illegal logging activities, and as cubs would have been too small to follow on the steep, snowy incline. The cubs were monitored at a safe distance in the hopes that the mother would return, but after many search attempts, she was not found.
Veterinary care intervened to save them from certain death and the cubs spent time in a rehabilitation centre where they could learn to survive on their own in the wild. Despite multiple attempts to rewild the cubs, they weren’t able to reintegrate.
Eventually, with the need for a forever home, Wildwood Trust were approached and plans were put in motion to prepare a new home where the cubs could grow into happy, healthy adult bears.
It’s a home full of love and care. Keepers Hannah and Becky are hugely enthusiastic – introducing us to Mish and Lucy, answering our questions with in-depth replies and demonstrable knowledge on their welfare requirements, enrichment needs and the natural behaviours they’re expecting to see.
It only added to our excitement as we found ourselves just metres from them – obviously clocking that it was breakfast time! The opportunity to hand-feed Mish and Lucy a mix of biscuits and monkey nuts through the fence – their lips extending through to delicately eat from our fingertips – was simply awesome.
Morning appetiser given, it was now time to head into the woods with buckets of feed ready to scatter their breakfast – a mix of veg and biscuits.
We were encouraged to place food piles in unique places to enhance their scavenging skills – under logs, up in trees and next to their pool. We then headed up to the raised viewing deck as Mish and Lucy set off in search of their main course; us watching excitably as they found our stashes. Time stood still as we observed – it was an incredibly peaceful spectacle.
To round it off we were presented with a memento certificate and a voucher to spend in the Coach House Café – their homemade bakes are a must!
We’ll be back to see our new friends continue to grow and enjoy their forever home at Wildwood Escot.
All money raised from this experience goes directly towards the welfare of the bears, and further still on wider research and conservation work, including rewilding projects where possible. This has been achieved with dormice and red squirrels already this year in the UK.
Book your experience and show your support at www.devon.wildwoodtrust.org
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This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum