The Ugandan Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), is Uganda’s only zoo. It is home to a number of African species, and acts as a sanctuary for injured animals as well as a rehabilitation centre. If UWEC can return animals to the wilds of Queen Elizabeth National Park and also Murchison Falls National Park in the country, then they will.
For animals that can’t, they will spend their life under the care of the keepers at the centre. UWEC is also home to animals that are now extinct in the country, but house them for educational purposes. An example of this is with the southern white rhinos that live at the centre.
Sadly, despite being a centre for animal conservation, the site is still under threat from the illegal wildlife trade. As a result, UWEC has to employ 16 armed guards to monitor the animals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
During their time at UWEC, the boys filmed how the keepers care for each of the animals on site and also learnt about the process the centre implements from when animals first arrive at the centre, all the way to when they try to reintroduce them back into the wild.
A decade ago, Paradise Wildlife Park actually sent two lionesses out to Uganda as part of an education project to help raise awareness for lion protection. The project made the national news in the UK and also in Uganda. One of the lionesses actually lived at home with the boys when she was a cub. She had been rejected by her parents, so the boys and the team at Paradise hand reared her. The highlight of the visit to UWEC for the boys was being reunited with ‘Zara’ and much to their amazement, she remembered each of them! Once she heard the brothers, she came over for a cuddle through the fence for what was an emotional and very happy moment of the trip.
The brothers also spent time with some of the orphan baby animals at the centre that included a serval kitten, two elephants and three chimpanzees. As well as the site in Entebbe, UWEC also owns a 100-acre island in the middle of Lake Victoria that is also a chimpanzee sanctuary. Between the island and the centre, UWEC is home to around 70 chimpanzees. The hope is that they can return some of the Chimpanzees that are currently on Ngamba island back to Queen Elizabeth National Park so that they can live completely wild lives again.
Paradise Wildlife Park, the Big Cat Sanctuary and the Ugandan Wildlife Education Centre have had a long-standing partnership now and the hope moving forward is to expand on this partnership to help more of the conservation work taking place in Uganda.