Harewood House to re-home birds and penguins after closing Bird Garden after 50 years

Sad news after 50 years.

After 50 years of bringing Leeds to life, the Bird Garden at Harewood House is winding down and preparing to re-home all of its wildlife.

Noting the pressures of the pandemic, and ongoing struggles of rising costs, Harewood House is taking the measure in order to preserve the long-term future of the park, stating that they want to “stay relevant and able to remain open for everyone to enjoy”.

The House had a record-breaking year in 2022, but sadly, this was not enough to keep the Bird Garden open to the public.

Over the next six months, the birds, including those that are exotic and endangered, will be re-homed in space that offer the capacity to look after the animals, ensuring “comfortable and enriched lives and to ensure their life-long care”.

The much-loved penguins will also be re-homed. / Image: Harewood House

And this all follows on from an exciting year where the Bird Garden saw a record of ten critically endangered Vietnam pheasants hatched; 298 penguin experiences delivered; 20 visits from specialist zoo vets; 416kg of meat fed to the condors and celebrated a special 31st birthday for Minnie the penguin.

In a touching statement, Harewood House broke the news to the public, stating:

“As Harewood House Trust looks to its long-term future, it has to consider what Harewood will look like in 5, 10, 25 years’ time from now and beyond, to ensure we stay relevant and able to remain open for everyone to enjoy.

“Harewood’s Bird Garden is now over 50 years old and, as visitors have pointed out to us consistently over the past few years, the birds’ environment is not on a par with more up-to-date zoos. At Harewood’s last zoo inspection, the team were praised for their excellent care and the health of the birds, but sadly they identified many problems with the site’s physical infrastructure that the charity cannot sustain.

Image: Harewood House

“Over the last six months we have been researching options for the charity going forwards, however, with a need for a £4 million investment to just the Bird Garden alone, the Trust has had to make the incredibly difficult decision to close this part of the Harewood experience.

“The closure date of the Bird Garden will be published later in the year and we will post updates on social media as the birds are rehomed around the world.

“It has been an incredibly difficult conclusion to reach but it is the most responsible and ethical decision to make, to ensure the health and care of these beautiful creatures, but also to ensure Harewood can stand the test of time and be here for as long as it has stood already.”

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The closing date has not yet been announced, but will be published later this year once Harewood House can give clear dates.

Harewood House reopens this weekend and will be open Friday-Sunday every weekend, before opening all week long from Friday 17 March 2023. In addition to this, Harewood House and grounds will be open all half term (Monday 13 February – Sunday 19 February 2023) for those wanting to visit the birds before they are re-homed.

Feature Image- Harewood House

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