Capel Manor College Opens Scottish Wildcat Enclosure at Mottingham Campus

London’s environmental college celebrated the opening of its Scottish wildcat enclosure on Tuesday 27 September. Recently built at its Mottingham Campus, the enclosure is vital for the conservation of this critically endangered species.

Special guests were invited to see how the two male wildcats (named Sweep and Swallow) have settled in and are enjoying their new, spacious indoor and outdoor areas. Rarer than the tiger, the Scottish wildcat is Britain’s last native cat species and resides in a few small pockets of northern Scotland. Habitat loss, hunting and hybridisation with feral domestic cats has led to its decline, and the species needs urgent conservation action.

Capel Manor College collaborates with other zoos to help with breeding programmes for certain species. The College also house animals that are part of the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and the European Studbook (ESB), who actively protect animals and their natural habitats.

Daisy Pinner-Saunders, Practical Instructor in Animal Management at Capel Manor College states:

“It has been so incredible to welcome the Scottish wildcats to our Mottingham Campus. Scottish wildcats are declining rapidly in the wild, with roughly under 400 individuals remaining, and to be part of the breeding programme provides an excellent opportunity for our students. Sweep and Swallow are settling in really well. Sweep is becoming more and more confident, roaming the enclosure day and night. Swallow is learning that he can trust us and is coming on leaps and bounds with his association training. Staff and students use camera trap footage and findings from live behaviour projects to encourage the young cats to develop their hunting skills through scent and trail enrichment.”

The College manages and looks after over 1,000 animals in its extensive zoos, collections and farms across its six London campuses. Whilst observing and caring for various species, students learn about wildlife ecology and conservation management.

Guests in attendance to observe the Scottish wildcats included The Marchioness of Salisbury, Patron and President of Capel Manor College, Cllr David Cartwright, Mottingham Councillor and Cllr Kate Lymer, Deputy Leader of Bromley Council.

Appointed as Patron and President of Capel Manor College in 2018, Lady Salisbury works closely with the College to raise additional funds and rally support for various projects. The funds to construct the enclosure for the Scottish wildcats were donated by a private donor over a three-year period.

Capel Manor College’s Principal Christine Bianchin and Head of Crystal Palace Park & Mottingham Campuses Andrew Smith gave guests a tour of the campus at Mottingham. Guests were able to find out more about the exciting plans that Capel Manor College has to update and expand its facilities for its South London students.

These plans include expanding its learning resources for agriculture, animal management, arboriculture, floristry, garden design and horticulture. There are also developing plans for the complete refurbishment of the Farm and animal care teaching resources at the College’s Crystal Palace Park Campus.