WWT and Slimbridge celebrate 75th year and completion of 2020 project
By David Wood
WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre celebrated WWT's 75th year with a special celebration on Thursday, September 16.
The event focused on the past, present and future of WWT's conservation work and the celebration took place in Slimbridge's new Living Wetland Theatre.
The event marked the charity's 75th year contributing to wetland conservation and the completion of the Slimbridge 2020 project.
75 years ago WWT was just an idea in the mind of founder, Sir Peter Scott. Slimbridge was the first WWT wetland centre to open in 1946 and it covers 1,000 acres of exhibits and internationally important wetlands.
More than 250,000 visitors a year visit the centre to connect with nature and it is the heart of WWT's pioneering conservation breeding work.
In 2016 WWT received £4.5m National Lottery Heritage Funding towards a £6m project to continue this work in memory of Sir Peter Scott. WWT has now completed eight new exhibits at Slimbridge including the Living Wetland Theatre and Waterscapes Aviary - the largest exhibit, dedicated to engaging visitors in wetland conservation.
Guests came along to the official opening ceremony in the Living Wetland Theatre and watched a bird demonstration with 'Sprout' the pink-backed pelican which showcases how birds are adapted to the wetlands they live in.
The talk and free flight demonstration was followed by speeches from Slimbridge's general manager Gary Haseley-Nejrup, chair of WWT Barnaby Briggs, WWT chief operating officer Kevin Peberdy and London & South director at National Lottery Heritage Fund, Stuart McLeod.
Guests then enjoyed nibbles, drinks and cake and were invited to immerse themselves within the new Waterscapes Aviary.
Gary Haseley-Nejrup said: "The official completion of our Slimbridge 2020 project and celebration of WWT's 75th anniversary was a huge success! It was so exciting to be able to share our unique new Living Wetland Theatre and Waterscapes Aviary with the people that made it possible - our stakeholders and supporters.
"It was also a fantastic opportunity for guests to have private viewings of our other Slimbridge 2020 exhibits including Mission Possible, Scott House Museum and the fully accessible Estuary Tower. These ground-breaking exhibits allow you to explore the incredible life and work of our founder Sir Peter Scott and allows everyone to get closer to nature.
"A huge thank you to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, grants, trusts, supporters - and, of course, our hard working staff, for transforming Slimbridge. What better way to mark our 75th year!"
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