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New Rainforest Ranger in Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary home to neglected pet reptiles and Trinidadian ants

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:11 30 March 2017

Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Hollie Stephenson with a Corn Snake. Picture: Ian Burt

Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Hollie Stephenson with a Corn Snake. Picture: Ian Burt

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A new tropical rainforest enclosure at Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary carries some important conservation messages.

Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Hollie Stephenson. Picture: Ian Burt Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Hollie Stephenson. Picture: Ian Burt

The interactive enclosure opens on Saturday, April 1, and includes a royal python, bearded dragon, leaf-cutting ants and a miniscule Amazon milk frog.

Sea Life manager Nigel Croasdale said the permanent exhibition was the company’s first in the UK following a popular run of the rainforest in Sea Life Hanover, Germany.

He said the enclosure highlights issues about the pet trade, with some of the animals having been brought to the sanctuary from a rescue centre in Brighton.

He said: “In recent times, snakes and lizards have become popular pets and there are increasing numbers that were once pets being re-homed.

Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Rob Pedley with a Giant African Millipede. Picture: Ian Burt Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Rob Pedley with a Giant African Millipede. Picture: Ian Burt

“We are not saying don’t have them, but there is lots to consider and ask questions about - captive bred animals are better than animals taken from the wild.”

The nest of leaf-cutting ants in the enclosure was dug out from a farm in Trinidad after farmers complained the insects were damaging their crops.

But instead of being killed by pesticides, Mr Croasdale said, they were flown to their new home in Hunstanton.

Mr Croasdale believes the rainforest enclosure will broaden people’s understanding of these peculiar creatures, adding: “We want people to find out more about where they live and what’s happening to their natural habitat.

Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Hollie Stephenson with a Bosc Monitor called Alan. Picture: Ian Burt Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Hollie Stephenson with a Bosc Monitor called Alan. Picture: Ian Burt

“Most people think snakes are slimy and cold to touch and sometimes they can instil fear in people, but it might not be what you expect.

“To see children’s faces light up after they have touched a snake for the first time, that creates a very powerful memory.”

Visitors will have the chance to get up close and personal with the creepy crawlies outside of their enclosures and learn more about their lives using touch screen information guides.

Sea Life duty manager, Adam Mackinson, said: “What we really wanted to achieve is an interactive experience. Our rangers are able to take out the creatures so people can touch them.

Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Hollie Stephenson with an Amazonian Milk Frog. Picture: Ian Burt Inside the new enclosure Rainforest Rangers at The Sea Life Centre in Hunstanton is Hollie Stephenson with an Amazonian Milk Frog. Picture: Ian Burt

“The whole room is built as a rainforest and the humidity is high.”

To find out more about the display visit: www.visitsealife.com/hunstanton

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