Posted: 20 July 2023

Students build stylish accommodation for mongooses

Our yellow mongooses (Cynictis penicillata) are enjoying a stylish new enclosure in Reaseheath’s mini zoo thanks to the efforts of Level 2 Diploma in Animal Management students.

The students designed and built the replacement home for mongooses Bertha and Barry in practical ‘stretch and challenge’ sessions where they were encouraged to research the animals’ natural habitat and use sustainable building practices.

The result is an eyecatching themed enclosure, highlighting the illegal wildlife trade, which has been built entirely from recycled and repurposed materials. Donations of materials from across college – particularly from our estates maintenance, horticulture, food, construction and foundation departments – were combined with further donations from the public and local businesses such as Nantwich Saddlery, and the whole build was supported by our Animal Centre’s dedicated maintenance team.

Students in the Working Group, known as ‘Timmy’s Team’ in honour of our resident tapir, were involved in the design and sourcing of materials and spent weeks breaking down pallets and cutting the wood to size along with other preparations.

They chose to replicate the mongooses’ habitat in the semi desert scrubland and grasslands of southern Africa and investigated and included enrichment features to encourage natural behaviour such as exploring, foraging and sleeping.

Timmy’s Team was also involved in conditioning and training the mongooses in preparation for their move, using positive reinforcement to get them willingly into their transport crates. The introduction went very smoothly and the lively pair have settled in well.

Bertha has been with us for five years and was originally from Dudley Zoo while Barry joined us three years ago from Curraghs Wildlife Park in the Isle of Man. They are now centre stage in our mini zoo and are ready to welcome public visitors once we reopen.

Course Manager Sean McIntyre, who led the project, explained: “The students had been studying the illegal wildlife trade and wanted to highlight this in their design, which is based on a deserted poaching outpost. They also wanted to give the mongooses a more desert-like habitat and added pipes, tunnels and crates for their enrichment.

“This was a practical project and I was very impressed with the students’ imaginative ideas, enthusiasm and work ethic which made the enclosure build so successful.”

Team member Jess Fielding, who will progress onto our Level 3 Diploma in Animal Management in September, said: “We’ve all looked forward to our building workshops. It’s been good to see the project through from start to finish – you get a real feeling of satisfaction when you know it’s gone well and that the mongooses are enjoying their new home.”

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