The new primate habitat heralds a new era of animal rescue in the UK

A first-of-its-kind primate rescue facility was opened on the 28th May 2022 here at The WIldheart Animal Sanctuary. The sanctuary is operated by The Wildheart Trust, a charity committed to rescuing exotic animals from cruelty across Europe.

This newly-designed and built structure houses multiple species of primates that the sanctuary aims to rehome over the coming years as regulations on keeping primates are tightened up. The facility is constructed of two gigantic bamboo domes, the first of their kind in Europe. These iconic geodesic structures tower over the granite fort that the sanctuary lays behind, forming an unrivalled multilevel space for the inhabitants to thrive in.

The largest dome stands 12m tall and is constructed from 777 bamboo poles which laid end to end would stretch over 2km. To complement the eco-domes are bedrooms made from 102 bales of straw, with an insect friendly living roof and a self-cleaning living floor, which the animals can access 24hrs a day.

Over recent years, the sanctuary has rescued animals as diverse as lemurs to big cats, most recently receiving two African Servals that were discovered with broken and malformed bones in a house in France, part of the illegal pet trade.

Lawrence Bates, Chief Operating Officer at The Wildheart Sanctuary, said:

“This is a landmark building for us and the Isle of Wight, marrying up the latest cutting-edge technologies with traditional materials to produce a futuristic yet environmentally friendly rescue space. Many visitors have likened this structure to the Eden project and I would certainly agree this is one of the most iconic structures in the South”.

The facility is complete with a second set of bedrooms made with upcycled blocks from a derelict animal house in another area of the sanctuary, taking the adage of reduce, re-use and recycle to a whole other level. Aligned with a strict zero waste policy any unusable blocks were recycled into the pathways and the offcuts from the bamboo are being made into toys for the sanctuary’s rescued tigers and lions.

Marc Fox, Animal Manager at The Wildheart Sanctuary, said:

“I stop and stand in awe in the middle of the giant domed habitat, feeling both proud and excited that we have managed to produce this show-stopping spectacle. I have visited a lot of primate habitats over the years and can honestly and confidently say that this exceeds all my expectations. The sheer size and design of the domes themselves means that we can develop and evolve a real habitat within, which can offer the inhabitants the ability to express their natural behaviours and have the space and complexity to feel safe, enriched and comfortable for the rest of their lives”.