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African insect snuck into family's suitcase

The praying mantis travelled home in the family's suitcase unbeknown to them Credit: Drusillas Park

A praying mantis that snuck into a family's suitcase and travelled from South Africa to the UK has now been re-homed in Sussex.

The tropical bug was discovered by the Menzies family when they washed their holiday clothes after returning from their fortnight away.

The Menzies family were shocked to find the insect among their holiday clothes Credit: Drusillas Park

After discovering the insect, Mum Pippa rang Drusillas Park who agreed to take the mantis in.

Drusillas' bug expert Angela Hale said: "Praying mantis are intriguing creatures that pose no threat to humans.

"They are not difficult to care for but you do need to know what you are doing in order to ensure they remain happy and healthy. Pippa did the right thing by getting in touch and we will provide the mantis with a good home.”

Praying mantis live in tropical climates around the world and they are named after their two prominent front legs, which are bent and held together as if they are praying.

Staff left amazed as they find Wallace the penguin flying

Zoo keepers at Drusillas Park in Sussex have had the surprise of their life after they found one of their penguins flying.

Wallace the penguin is known for his speed and has always been a lot faster than the other birds.

Staff think that his unusually large wingspan and his recent weight loss has made him more aerodynamic, meaning he can fly.

Wallace was born at the park in 2012.

Staff at Drusillas Park watching Wallace the penguin fly Credit: Drusillas Park

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Pan-da-cakes served up for animal park

Red pandas at Drusillas Park enjoying Shrove Tuesday Credit: Drusillas Park

Red pandas at Drusillas Park have joined in the celebration of Shrove Tuesday by eating some special pancakes.

Mulan and Tibao were served unconventional crepes - from a mix known as panda cake.

Panda cake is a special dietary product which contains many of the daily nutrients required to keep the pandas fit and healthy.

Head Keeper Mark said: "We work hard in the zoo to deliver foodand other items of interest to the animals in ways that will keep them mentally stimulated.”

"Pandas are nervous creatures and they were a little wary at first. Mulan was the first to come and investigate - she can never resist a grape! She cleared the whole crepe up in a jiffy!”

In the defence of the false widow spider

Sussex, Drusillas
The False Widow Spider Credit: Drusillas Park

A spider expert from Sussex is trying to dispel some myths surrounding the false widow spider following a series of news reports about people being bitten.

Angela Hale, from Drusillas Park, said: “There has been a lot of recent press interest into the presence of false widow spiders in the UK. However, the truth is these spiders are incredibly common in the South of England and have been living happily all around us since 1879.”

Angela, who is also the secretary of the British Tarantula Society, keeps a collection of over 150 spiders at home in her spare bedroom!

She added: “The bite of a false widow is similar to that of a bee sting and has no long term lasting effects.”

Sussex, Drusillas
Angela Hale is a spider expert Credit: Drusillas Park

Zoo keepers get ready to count ALL their animals!

It is one of the biggest jobs of the zoo calendar.

Staff at Drusillas in East Sussex are starting their annual New Year stock take.

Each and every one of the 1000 animals at the park will be checked and counted.

Flamingos at Drusillas Credit: Drusillas
As well as counting the monkeys, zoo keepers will have to count insects too! Credit: Drusillas

The process can take several days and counting the smaller animals takes a great deal of patience and time.

Senior Keeper Claudia Perryman said, "It's important to make sure our figures add up for all the animals in the zoo, so as well as counting monkeys we even have to count the stick insects and cockroaches!"

The zoo has seen many new arrivals which have to be counted, including this baby lemur Credit: Drusillas

New year sparks endangered monkey talk

The Sulawesi black crested macaques are critically endangered Credit: Drusillas Park

Zoo keepers at Drusilla Park have introduced a new animal feed talk for 2014 about one of their most endangered species.

At the moment, keeper talks take place daily at the award-winning zoo in East Sussex on the penguins, otters and lemurs.

From yesterday, visitors can now hear a talk about the four macaques and see the group being fed at 11am daily.

Sulawesi black crested macaques are considered critically endangered in the wild.

Sadly, their population has declined by as much as 80% over the last 40 years mainly due to habitat destruction and hunting.

They are considered a local delicacy and are currently being killed at an unsustainable rate.

The group at Drusillas is part of a European conservation programme and the zoo has enjoyed a number of breeding successes since Moteck and Kendari were introduced in 2010.

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Thomas train running again after fallen tree

High winds caused a large tree to fall onto the Thomas track Credit: Drusillas Park

The Thomas the tank engine train is now running again after the high winds brought down a large tree on the line.

The Drusilla's Park reopened on 27th December to find the popular railway blocked and the team worked to move the branch in time for the park's opening.

Elsewhere in the Park, the animals appeared to weather the storms very well.

Most of the animals stayed within the safety and warmth of their indoor enclosures, only venturing out once the storm had passed.

Thomas the tank engine was stopped by a falling tree Credit: Drusillas Park

Zoo keeper raises money for endanger monkeys

Jodie Dryden with a wild Sulawesi macaque in Indonesia Credit: Drusillas Park

Jodie Dryden, a zoo keeper at Drusillas Park, has raised more than £1000 to help an endangered species she looks after at the zoo in East Sussex.

She arranged a charity quiz to raise funds for the critically endangered Sulawesi black crested macaque.

Jodie with her cheque that will go to help endangered monkeys Credit: Drusillas Park

Over 250 people attended the quiz, which was hosted on the same night in 5 other zoos across the UK, and the total donated was £1243.

Shed loads of skin

Staff at Drusillas Park lie alongside the snake's skin Credit: Drusillas Park

A python at a Sussex wildlife park has shed over five metres of skin in seven days.

Basil from Drusillas Park is the largest snake at the zoo and was born in 1990.

The reptiles are found in the rainforests of south-east Asia and can grow up to seven metres.

They shed their skin around four to five times a year in order to grow.

The snake has shed skin the length of three zookeepers Credit: Drusillas Park

Drusillas' reptiles enjoy the summer sun

Tortoises with zoo staff
Keepers Jodie Dryden and Claudia Farley with red-footed tortoises at Drusillas Credit: Drusillas Park

Reptiles at Drusillas Park in East Sussex have been soaking up the summer sun.

Red-footed tortoises have been out and about in the zoo gardens accompanied by zoo keepers.

Bearded dragons from the zoo also spent time snoozing in the sun, as keepers moved them to their outdoor accommodation on warmer days.

Being outside not only gives the animals a different environment to explore, but it also provides a number of health benefits for them too.

The reptiles can ensure they get enough vitamin D3 so they can develop healthy bones and shells.

reptile on manager
A sun-seeking bearded dragon with zoo manager, Sue Woodgate Credit: Drusillas Park
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