Explore Sudeley Castle's Animal Ark for a digital safari adventure
By David Wood
Visitors to Sudeley Castle this summer will encounter a plethora of wildlife as the Tudor estate takes its first steps to becoming the world's first digital reserve.
Visitors are invited on an animal odyssey across the castle grounds that begins with an Augmented Reality (AR) treasure hunt, before venturing into a brand new reserve area, where habitats from Kenya, China, Tibet, India and even the North Pole have been evoked for life-sized animal sculptures.
Sudeley's Animal Ark invites visitors on a journey through time that starts with prehistoric AR animals that existed long before the castle, before reaching modern day wildlife encounters with iconic sculptures in their habitats, in the newly launched 'Animal Ark' zone.
New animal pairs joining Sudeley's Ark this year include sculptures of lions, yaks, pandas, wolves, leopards and argali sheep. Each set is handmade from flowers, petals and natural materials.
The Animal Ark experience takes you across continents and ends with British wildlife, including two giant large blue butterflies, an augmented reality beaver, an extra-large ladybird which join Sudeley's existing supersized hedgehog. These native species represent the push to replenish what we have lost and the work of local organisations including Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and Winchcombe Green Town which Sudeley supports.
There are more than 50 handmade sculptures and other key features of the Animal Ark including the castle's Birdsong Garden, in which visitors can hear a musical composition of British birds by the English acoustic ecologist and conservationist Cosmo Sheldrake.
Lady Ashcombe, Chatelaine of Sudeley Castle, said: "Sudeley's Animal Ark tells the story of diminishing wild spaces and the inspiring ways we can coexist with all the other living beings that make our world magical - from elephants and lions to tree sparrows and butterflies."
Sudeley's Animal Ark promises a family adventure in the natural world, with plenty to spark visitors' imaginations and raise awareness of work being undertaken to conserve wildlife in all corners of the planet.
The digital treasure hunt across the castle grounds will also allow explorers to search for wildlife from the past and discover lesser known spots across the 10 award-winning gardens. Look out for the lynx in Sudeley's 200 year old yew hedges!
Animal Ark honours the life's work of the late Mark Shand, the founder of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) Elephant Family, brother of HM Queen Camilla and a regular visitor to Sudeley, which had been home to his uncle, the late Lord Ashcombe.
The team at Sudeley hopes the Animal Ark will provide both fun and thought-provoking experiences for families this summer.
Mary Powys, Animal Ark director at Sudeley Castle, said: "The existence of humans and wildlife is intertwined with the larger threat we are facing, including climate change and habitat loss. The Animal Ark is a complete experience, blending new digital elements with an immersive wildlife experience for all visitors to Sudeley Castle this year. "
Sudeley Castle is now open to all visitors and runs until November 5th
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