Every week, Lake District Wildlife Park's Lucy Dunn takes us on a virtual trip across the globe...

This week we are staying closer to home and visiting the temperate forests and mountains of Europe.

Imagine everything from alpine meadows, turbulent rivers and green pastures to ancient woodlands and jagged mountains. The wildlife of Europe has been in decline, but in recent years it has started to make a come back. There are healthy populations of Brown Bears in the Velebit and Carpathian Mountains, Griffin Vultures in the Rhodope Mountains and sightings of Iberian Lynx returning to the valleys of Portugal.

At the Lake district Wildlife Park there is an interesting collection of European wildlife, some of which is still found in the wild in the UK.

One of the most magnificent European species at the Park are the Eurasian Lynx Cae and Elva. On top of a rocky outcrop scanning his kingdom, is where Cae the oldest male Lynx can be found. His brother Elva, the shyer individual can be spotted in the caves or amongst the pine trees. If you listen carefully you can hear their soft purrs and chuffs especially at feeding time.

With huge golden eyes and large padded paws they are striking animals. In Europe, Lynx typically inhabit mountain woodland and forests. There are discussions underway to reintroduce Lynx into areas of Scotland, following the refusal of a licence for a trial reintroduction into Keilder Forest in Cumbria and Northumbria.

Heading down the Lake District Wildlife Park as you enter the magical woodland walk, you are greeted by two pairs of piercing orange eyes. They belong to the European Eagle Owls. You will stop in your tracks as you realise simply how big these birds are. They are huge compared to the Tawny Owls and even the Barn Owls we see and hear in Cumbria. Eagle Owls have been persecuted by humans for many years. However, they are making a comeback and last year juveniles were successfullly reintroduced into the Danube Delta in Ukraine.

A couple of years ago, two Highland Tigers were welcomed to the Park. Skye and Jura are European Wildcats which are found throughout the forests of Europe. Although not endangered in Europe, there are thought to be less than 200 Wildcats left in the UK, in the highlands of Scotland. Therefore, the Wildcat is in danger of becoming locally extinct. Skye and Jura play an important role in raising awareness about the problems these cats face and in the future, we hope they will play a part in the “Saving Wildcats” breeding programme to reinforce the populations in Scotland.

At the very top end of the Park is a huge open woodland area which is inhabited by Thelma and Louise, the aptly named European Wild Boar. Gregarious and bold they always appear to be heading off on an adventure. They spend most of their days snuffling and digging up roots with their strong snouts. They also spend a lot of time strolling up and down their river, getting muddy and then baking themselves in the sunshine. They certainly know how to enjoy life! Last year both of them were crossed with our male Tamworth Pig George, to produce stripey piglets, known as “Iron Age” piglets. Mischievous and full of energy we hope to have more this year.

Next to the Wild Boar ,cuddled up inside a wall is where you will find our Hobbits, the European Polecats. Frodo, Sam, Pippin and Merri are their names and if you keep quiet and still you can often see a nose poking out of the wall to investigate the outside world!

As we are sure you are aware, we are currently crowdfunding to help with the ongoing costs of running the Wildlife Park and our commitment to conservation. If you are interested in supporting us, please have a look at our crowdfunding page: