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Highland Wildlife Park wins £1.9m lottery boost to create world class attraction

By Gavin Musgrove

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The National Lottery Heritage Fund has today announced a £1.9m investment to help create a truly world-class attraction at the Highland Wildlife Park.

The funding will be used to provide 'an impressive gateway into the natural environment and habitat of the spectacular Cairngorms National Park' at the site by Kincraig owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.

The project will not only help boost visitor numbers, but also benefit the local area in terms of nature conservation work, training opportunities, and increased employment.

A Highland and Islands Enterprise ‘Impact of Covid’ survey reported tourism was one of the worst hit sectors in the region with visitor spend likely down by as much as £584m.

Up to 20 new jobs are expected to be created by the development costing in the region of £5.5m.

The National Lottery Heritage funding will help revitalise the wildlife conservation charity’s visitor experience, creating immersive new wildlife discovery hubs across the park showcasing Scotland’s native animals and the nature conservation taking place across the Cairngorms.

Works, subject to planning approval, will see the creation of three interconnected timber-framed hub structures:

* The Discovery Hub being the main visitor area featuring interpretation, digital technology and interactives.

* The Learning Hub offering dedicated accessible learning space.

* The Hilltop Hub will highlight on-going conservation work. The combined experiences will take visitors on a journey to explore the stories of people, places, and animals, alongside the connections which bring them all together.

David Field, Royal Zoological Society of Scotland CEO, said: “It is tremendously exciting to be able to move forwards with our plans for Scotland’s Wildlife Discovery Centre at Highland Wildlife Park.

"With this vital support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, we can create a truly special, world class experience which will play a pivotal role in inspiring more children, young people and local communities to protect and connect with nature and wildlife.

“Here in the spectacular Cairngorms National Park, the new innovative spaces in our discovery hubs will give visitors the opportunity to find out about Scotland’s wildlife heritage and how they can help with conservation initiatives including our charity’s projects to save native species like the wildcat, pond mud snail and pine hoverfly.

"This is an initiative that we hope the whole community will get behind.”

Caroline Clark, Director Scotland of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: "This is an exciting and much needed project which will improve the experience of visitors and support the tourism economy of the Highlands.

"Thanks to players of the National Lottery more, and new, visitors to the park will be able to learn about and enjoy Scotland’s amazing wildlife and biodiversity.

"We particularly welcome the RZSS team’s ambition to drive environmental sustainability through green building design and a focus on renewable technologies."

PICTURES: Check out images of the proposed eye-catching Discovery Centre at the wildlife park

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