Wild swimming has become very popular in recent years and even some of the staff at the Lake District Wildlife Park have been known to take a dip. Whilst some of us humans might think this a bit of an odd thing to do, there are many health benefits both mental and physical to be gained from swimming in the wild. Did you know that taking a dip is also a frequent thing that some of our animals do? Humans swim for mostly pleasure and well-being, however animals swim for a variety of reasons. This could be escaping or hiding from a predator, foraging for food, or simply having a bath.
When it comes to wild swimming, Muffin and Zico our two Brazilian Tapirs are experts. With the weather getting warmer they can be seen playing in the river nearly every day. Muffin is 20, which is quite old for a Tapir, and she still jumps and plays with her much younger son Zico. He is also an expert at underwater swimming. Disappearing under the surface he uses his amazing long nose like a snorkel. In the wild, Tapirs can stay submerged for several minutes when they are hiding from predators. Capybaras are another animal that use this tactic to stay safe. Daisy the Park’s resident Capybara can be quite hard to spot sometimes, until you notice a pair of ears and two little black eyes peering just above the water line.
Urma, our Burmese Python is perhaps one our animals that you would least expect to see taking a dip. However, Urma spends many hours in her bath, just relaxing and resting. In the wild Pythons, will lie in water with just their eyes and nose visible. They are fierce ambush predators and being submerged is a great place to lie in wait for unsuspecting prey.
We also have birds at the Lake District Wildlife Park that like nothing more than frolicking around in water. Our pink Greater Flamingos are fabulous to watch as they take a bath. Stretching out their wings, flapping and shaking their feathers, they really enjoy a preen and clean in the water. As filter feeders they also use the water to forage for food. Scanning their long beaks from side to side they use a comb like structure to filter out little insects. When they are not in the water, our Flamingos can also be seen stamping their feet up and down in puddles to seek out their food.
The final animals that just have to be mentioned are our Asian Short Clawed Otters, that simply just love being in water. In the wild, they are great hunters and will forage and catch their food in water. They also know how to have a good time in water. Otters will swim, roll around, dive and play.
So, if you are not convinced about swimming or dipping yourself, why not come and watch our animals getting wet instead!