A purpose-built visitor centre to welcome upwards of 200,000 people to the heartland of the Highlands has taken a step closer, thanks to funding from the National Lottery.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has received development funding of £100,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to progress plans for a new visitor centre at Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore.
It is hoped that the proposed Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre will bring a boost to the Highlands, and attract visitors to learn about the special nature and context of wildlife and environment in the north.
In 1986 the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland acquired the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig.
The Highland Wildlife Park is home to more than 200 species including the first polar cub to be born in the UK for 25 years, as well as endangered animals such as the Snow Leopard, the European Grey Wolf and the Amur Tiger.
After the birth of the first polar bear, Hamish, to mum Victoria in December 2017, the Highland Wildlife Park welcomed record-breaking visitor numbers last year.
Daska Mackintosh, Highland Wildlife Park’s head of operations and visitor services, said, “It is very exciting to receive this support thanks to National Lottery players.
“Hamish, the UK’s only polar bear cub, has been fantastic for us, attracting more than 200,000 visitors to the park in 2018.
“Building Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre would help us continue to deliver excellent customer service to our increasing number of visitors and inspire them to appreciate and enjoy Scotland’s wildlife, as well as understand how they can help to conserve it.
“Detailed plans will now be drawn up in preparation for a final stage application for funding in 2020.”
Plans emerging for Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre show that it will be built using sustainable building design, with natural and locally sourced materials.
It will be situated amongst wetlands and native woodlands – with landscape views in every direction.
Plans also include a number of flexible learning and educational event spaces to enable an expanded activity programme which are hoped to give more people the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to the management of Scotland’s native wildlife heritage.
Community engagement workshops to provide further information and gather feedback on the plans for the Scottish Wildlife Discovery Cenrre will be held in village halls in Carrbridge on April 23, Newtonmore on April 24 and Kincraig on April 26.