Peek inside Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre

Posted 24 May 2024 in Edinburgh Zoo

Interpretation inside Scotland's Wildlife Discovery Centre at Highland Wildlife Park IMAGE: Beccy Angus 2024

If you have visited Highland Wildlife Park recently you may have noticed some exciting building work underway! As we start to wrap up Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre we would like to give you a sneak-peek of what’s inside.

Our charity is excited to announce the individual names of the three buildings that will make up our transformed visitor experience. This summer you will be able to visit the Gateway, Learning Hive and Conservation Den. The names were created in Scots Gaelic first based on nature to share how they will be used.  

A' Chaonnag, the Learning Hive, is named after our hope for the space to be a hive of learning, activity and collaboration. An Doras, the Gateway, draws on the idea of openings in nature, like a forest clearing. An Saobhaidh, the Conservation Den, is a safe space where visitors can learn about the challenges facing the natural world.

The Gateway is built with humans in the centre - not just at the physical centre of the park, but the exhibition inside and at the metaphorical centre of stories connecting people, places and animals, and our role in the wider ecosystem. It has been designed as a colourful space with no linear path, so you will need to explore, just as if you were in a forest! We have focused on exploring different types of habitats and the animals that live within them, looking not just at the threats they face but at stories of hope for the species our wildlife conservation charity is helping to protect in the wild. The exhibition in the Gateway is designed so that you are immersed in the space, can take the headline information or read on, and even scan QR codes for further information. This means you can learn about our vital conservation work in a way that suits you.

The Conservation Den is an open, natural space situated at the top of the hill near our snow leopards. From here you can take in amazing panoramic views across the park and the species we care for, over to the Saving Wildcats conservation breeding for release centre, and all the way to our invertebrate release sites in the heart of the Cairngorms. In the Den we will bring our conservation work to visitors, giving you a first-hand understanding of our vital work to save native species. Standing here puts you right in the middle of conservation work, not something that is happening far away, but something that you are and can be involved in.  We have lots of interactive activities in the Den including a block stacking game, so you can unleash your inner ecosystem engineer and learn about the hugely positive effect beavers have on the wider ecosystem! This space is all about pausing to think about our choices and what we can do to save wildlife, both here in the Cairngorms and around the world.

The Hive is a flexible space and will allow us to further improve what we can offer to groups visiting the park. The space supports our activity programme, giving us a place for learners from across our communities to engage with nature.  

We are so excited to welcome you all to Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre later this summer! What will you discover?

Beccy Angus

Head of discovery and learning at RZSS