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Pembrokeshire zoo gives a new home to family of homeless penguins

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A FAMILY of macaroni penguins have found a new place to call their own in Pembrokeshire after they lost their home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 12 macaroni penguins, from Living Coasts in Torquay, found themselves homeless and facing the possibility of having to relocate to Europe when the attraction announced its closure during the summer.

They were given a new home at Pembrokeshire zoo, Folly Farm, which has taken the family of six male and six female penguins under its wing.

Tim Morphew, zoo curator at Folly Farm, said: “In an ideal world, we would be welcoming these new penguins to the Folly Farm family under happier circumstances. Zoos across the UK and Europe have had a very difficult year. We’re sad to see Living Coasts close, but a small positive for us is that we’ve been able to able to lend a hand by giving these amazing birds a new home in the UK.”

Folly Farm’s keepers collected the penguins from Living Coasts in July. And, after a short quarantine period, the family have now settled into their new home with the zoo’s four male macaroni penguins and 19 Humboldt penguins.

The zoo is now the only place in the UK with macaroni penguins, which are classed as a vulnerable species. The rehomed family will now join Folly Farm’s existing male macaroni penguins as part of a breeding programme to help increase numbers in European zoos and, ultimately, the wild.

Tim continued: “We’ve learned from previous experience that macaroni penguins are very laid back, they aren’t fazed by much. We’re lucky at Folly Farm to have a purpose-built penguin quarantine area which gave us an opportunity to spend 30 days getting to know these new macaroni penguins before introducing them to their new housemates at Penguin Coast.

“They’ve settled in beautifully and we’re starting to see their characters and their personalities coming out. They’re a very playful species, they love hopping on the rocks, playing with bubbles and looking at themselves in the mirror. Spud is the grumpy old man of the family at 21 years old, he gets hangry if the keepers take too long to feed him. Yo-yo was hand reared, so he loves people – and himself. Violet is the smallest of the family, she’s very sweet and gentle and already a firm favourite with the keepers.”

Folly Farm’s keepers are hoping the macaroni penguin breeding programme will follow the success of its Humboldt penguin breeding programme, which has seen 34 penguin chicks born at the zoo over the past six years.

To make room for the new macaroni penguins at Penguin Coast, nine of Folly Farm’s Humboldt penguins have now been relocated to Flamingo Land in north Yorkshire, to join the breeding programme there.

Tim said: “The Humboldt penguins were quite excited by the new arrivals and came over to say ‘hello’, but the two groups have split out now and the macaroni penguins have already established their own area of Penguin Coast on the rocky part of the beach.

“Penguins have always been a popular attraction here at Folly Farm, visitors love watching them swim in the underwater viewing area. And, with these new arrivals, we’re expecting to see an increase in the number of sales of our penguin adoption packs in the lead up to Christmas.

“We’re looking forward to getting the breeding programme started next year and hopefully seeing more of these fantastic birds head to new homes across the UK.”

Clare Rugg is senior curator at Paignton Zoo and formerly at Living Coasts. She said: “When we heard that Living Coasts was to close, the first thing we needed to do was to ensure that we found suitable homes for the animals. We had previously worked with Folly Farm and they already held some of our Macaroni penguins from a previous move.

“Folly Farm was therefore an obvious choice when moving the Macaroni penguins. They have an excellent track record in keeping penguins and had a suitable enclosure for them. The move was also agreed by the European penguin TAG. We were of course sad to see them go but happy knowing they were going to a fantastic new home.”

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Police appeal after man found dead near Kilgetty roundabout

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POLICE in Pembrokeshire are  investigating the sudden death of a man in Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire.

The man, aged in his 60s, is often seen on or near Kilgetty roundabout. Concerns for his welfare were raised this morning (Saturday, Nov 28) and sadly, a body was found near the Kilgetty roundabout a short while later.

Police said: “Anyone with information that could help piece together the circumstances surrounding his death, which is being treated as unexplained, is asked to contact police.

“Though formal identification has not yet taken place, the man’s next of kin has been informed. HM Coroner is also aware.

“Anyone with information that could help officers with their investigation is asked to report it to Dyfed-Powys Police, either online at: bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing 101@dyfed-powys.pnn.police.uk, or by calling 101. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired text the non-emergency number on 07811 311 908. Quote reference: DP-20201128-076.”

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Garage planning appeal dismissed

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A PLANNING inspector has upheld a Pembrokeshire County Council decision to refuse planning permission for a detached garage.

The Inspector dismissed the appeal by Mr Peter Baker against the Council’s decision to refuse the proposed development at Amroth Road, Ludchurch.

Planning Inspector J P Tudor agreed that the development would cause unacceptable harm on the character and appearance of the area.

The planned garage was to be placed in front of a detached bungalow.

Other properties nearby generally have garages situated to the side or rear or integrated into the main building.

The Inspector said: “Given its size and position, the garage would appear prominent in public views along the highway and be noticeable from neighbouring properties. It would compromise the existing sense of space and openness to the front of most dwellings.

“Therefore, the development would have an adverse effect on the character an appearance of the area.”

The appeal was dismissed.

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New guidelines for hospital visiting during Coronavirus outbreak

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NEW revised NHS Wales hospital visiting guidance during the coronavirus outbreak will be published on Monday 30 November 2020. This supersedes previously published guidance.

The revised guidance sets out the baseline for visiting in Wales during the pandemic, but allows health boards, trusts and hospices to have more flexibility to depart from the guidance.

This flexibility is due to the changing picture of coronavirus transmission across Wales, with significant variations in community transmission across different parts of the country and differences in the rate of nosocomial transmission.

The new guidelines allow health care providers to asses local factors and work with local infection prevention and control teams and Public Health Wales when agreeing visiting arrangements.

Healthcare providers may depart from the guidance in response to:

  • rising levels of covid-19 transmission in their localities, including levels which result in a national lockdown and/or evidence of nosocomial transmission in a particular setting; or
  • falling levels of transmission in their local area.

In addition to allowing for this flexibility the revised guidance has been amended for maternity services after listening to feedback from women and families and consulting with Heads of Midwifery and Sonography/Radiography Services. Visiting in maternity services will now be based on a risk assessment approach by health boards. This will take into consideration local environmental factors such as room sizes, ability to socially distance and infection prevention and control risks in enabling partners to safely accompany pregnant women and new mothers. This risk assessed approach should be taken in collaboration with relevant health professionals, local infection prevention and control teams and Public Health Wales. All women will be supported to have at least one partner with them during active labour, birth and for the period immediately after the birth, except in an extremely limited number of circumstances.

The updated guidelines also recognise that some people may require an essential support assistant for specific additional support eg a support worker or interpreter. Essential support assistants will not to be classed as visitors, in some circumstances, where people receive care and support from a family member or partner, they may nominate this person as their essential support assistant.

Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething, said: “We recognise that the restrictions on visiting has a huge impact on patients, their families and loves ones. We have announced further changes to the guidelines today to provide health boards, trusts and hospices with flexibility to depart from the guidelines in response to local levels of Covid-19 transmission. It is important to remember that the virus has not gone away and the health, safety and wellbeing of patients, communities and NHS staff remains an absolute priority for both the Welsh Government and health care providers. Tough choices will still need to be made but we hope the revised guidelines will allow more flexibility for health care providers. ”

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