A ‘thumbs up’ for new Horncastle wildlife park

Here's looking at you: A meerkat poses for the camera
Here's looking at you: A meerkat poses for the camera

The public has given a massive ‘thumbs up’ to a Horncastle couple whose decision to open up their private collection of wild animals last weekend proved to be a ‘roar-away’ success.

Local business owner Andrew Riddel and partner Tracy Walters welcomed hundreds of visitors to the Wolds Wildlife Park off Louth Road last Saturday and Sunday.

Lions, a tiger, wolves, camels and zebras were among the star attractions as people lined up on social media to praise the couple - and their staff - for an amazing day out.

In message on Facebook, the park said: “We would just like to thank everyone who came to see our animals.

“Thank you for everyone who helped make it very special.”

The News was contacted by more than 20 people who visited the park while others took to social media to say thanks.

Jane Dundon said: “Wow! Just wow! Thank you for allowing us to see your animals. We had a great time and enjoyed talking to the staff about the enclosures and the animals.”

Charlotte Jones said: “We had a lovely day and enjoyed seeing all the beautiful animals being so well looked after.”

Karen Blackburn said: “Thank you for allowing us to see your wonderful animals in such a fantastic environment....you should be very proud of what you have achieved.”

Jenny Hall added: “You have done a fantastic job and the animals are all in their element.

“Hopefully we can come next time you open as my little boy was really taken aback by getting so close.

“The animals are all so well cared for and I would love it to be a regular visit!”

The success of the event was a major boost for Mr Riddel and Ms Walters, who are still waiting for planning permission from East Lindsey District Council.

As revealed in the News last week, Larkfleet/Allison Homes - who have permission for more than 80 homes on a neighbouring site - have objected to the park and called on planners to refuse the application on a number of grounds, including noise and smell.

However, several people told the News they hoped ELDC would approve the plans .

One resident, who did not supply his full name, said: “It was a great experience to see these animals close up -and see what Mr Riddel is trying to do.

“I was very impressed with the new animal enclosures, so safe and professional.

“I understand that there is a objection from a building company but would be such a missed opportunity for Horncastle and the rest of 
East Lindsey if they are successful in stopping Mr Riddel’s vision.

“A wildlife park would bring in long term work for local people and much needed tourism to East Lindsey area.”

Mr Riddel has offered to buy the site from Larkfleet/Allison but the company says it intends to go ahead with the development.

A spokesman for ELDC said: “The Wildlife Park is still a little way off a decision. It is currently in a period of re-consultation following the submission of a noise report.”

• See more in tomorrow’s edition of the Horncastle News.