New Forest Wildlife was originally a Butterfly Farm and later became the Nature Quest Wildlife Centre.

Carol and Roger Heap and their son Ed Heap, who have been working in wildlife conservation for most of their lives, took over the park in 1997  and later re- named the centre the New Forest Wildlife Park.

Jason Palmer - Curator of Animals

Jason has overall responsibility for the welfare of all our wildlife, bringing new species to the park and dealing with the mountains of red tape required.

After working for us at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo and a couple of years abroad he returned to the New Forest Wildlife Park. Under his management many new species have been introduced to the park and he co-ordinates the studbooks for pine marten and Asian short-clawed otters. Jason has a huge network of colleagues in the zoo and natural world and can always find the answer to any problem.  

Jason is responsible for creating the stud book for Asian Shortclaws otters in the UK to ensure correct breeding guidelines are followed to maintain the health of these lovely otters in captivity.  

Jason has appeared on many local TV and radio stations, passing on his expertise about our animals and birds.

Donna Swan - Animal Manager

After travelling and working in Texas and Canada with North American native species Donna is now working in the New Forest with European native species. She has experience with many types of zoo animals and thoroughly enjoys her work. Donna has had many sleepless nights caring for orphaned young animals needing extra TLC, but always enjoys seeing them return to the park fit and well.

Shanna Dymond - Head Keeper

Shanna was one of our first work-experience students from Sparsholt College in 1999 and after qualifying she came to work at the park as a trainee keeper.

Shanna enjoys sharing her knowledge about our wildlife and leads our birthday parties, Keeper Experience and Junior Keeper days. Like most of our keepers she has done her fair share of night feeds for orphaned animals, including taking them home to her family. As a result Shanna has many wildlife friends around the park.  Coffee time would not be the same without Shanna's cakes and biscuits.

Ali Morris - Animal Keeper 

Ali has been with us for many years and is an experienced and knowledgeable keeper. Ali always has a smile and the ability to see the funny side of a situation.  Over the years she has helped with many orphaned rescued animals.  Ali is a firm favourite with  our Keeper Experiences and Animal Encounters.


Todd Cummings

Todd is an 9-to-5 convert, who begun his adult life working in a head office for a bank in London. However, soon he realised that job satisfaction paid more than money, and set off for university to study the topic he was most passionate about; wildlife conservation.

Upon completing his Zoology degree, Todd gained experience working with a wide variety of animals at Howlett's Wild Animal Park and the Kit Wilson Trust for Animal Welfare. He then upped sticks to join us here in the New Forest for a seasonal role, but was retained after proving himself to be an excellent keeper.

Todd is extremely passionate about native wildlife, and an advocate for rewilding, He wrote his dissertation on the factors affecting the distribution of hedgehogs in urban and rural landcapes, and has participated in national and regional surveys for vulnerable native species.


Chris Turner

Chris has always had a passion for wildlife growing up down the road from Chester Zoo. He gained valuable experience during an internship at Chester zoo, bringing with him a vast amount of knowledge about small mammals. Once completing his degree in Bioveterinary science he joined the team at Battersea before moving to the New Forest. His interest in veterinary science means he's always happy to help out the vet during any procedures.


Connor Macmillan - Seasonal Keeper

Connor has recently completed a degree in Zoo Management during which time he volunteered at Chestnut Centre (New Forest Wildlife Park sister collection- now closed) to collect his dissertation data on pine martens.

Hamish, the pine marten, adored Connor and would wait everyday for his arrival. Hamish also gave Connor a love for the British mustelid species and subsequently Connor was able to follow his dream and work with more mustelids when volunteering at the New Forest Wildlife Park for 4 months before starting as a seasonal keeper. 

Previously he has volunteered with park rangers at a South African safari park and researchers at the Manu National Park in Peru. 


Laura Fisher - Education Officer and Animal Keeper

Over the last few years Laura has hosted birthday parties, guided school groups and helped care for the many animals housed here at the park. Having completed a degree in Animal Management and a Zoo Biology Masters, Laura enjoys putting her knowledge into practice. She is a friendly face who is always willing to go the extra mile for both visitors and animals alike. Her experience working at a farm and stables as well as volunteering with a plethora of species in Namibia, taking orphan primates for night shifts has made her an invaluable member of the team.

In her own time Laura enjoys horse riding and travelling. Laura is always happy interacting with visitors and loves being able to care for so many different species.

Vicky Ross - Guide

Vicky has extensive knowledge of all animals at the park and is also responsible for running our hugely successful animal encounters during weekends and school holiday periods. Any tour with Vicky is going to leave you with a new love for all things wild. As well as touring visitors, Vicky helps run birthday parties and our popular craft table. She loves interacting with visitors and is always on hand to help wherever needed.

In her own time Vicky enjoys exploring new places with her dogs, spending time with friends and family and as much travel as she can fit in.

Laila Lock - Guide

Having spent many years working with children with learning difficulties, Laila is great with children both young and old. Her calm and collected attitude means that whatever the needs of the children, they can all enjoy a relaxed, educational and most importantly, fun, trip out. Laila is also a member of our encounters team, with her motivated attitude, she makes the happiness of our visitors her biggest priority. 

With a close family, chickens and dogs, Laila loves nothing more than spending time with those she loves in the great outdoors.

Richard Merritt - Guide

Having taught secondary science with a specialism in biology for many years, Richard is a wealth of knowledge. He maintains interest and enthusiasm with everyone he meets and his calm and trouble free attitude makes all children feel comfortable. A tour with Richard is always a success.

Rachel Lewis - Guide

Tours with Rachel are never boring. Her upbeat attitude helps her to draw in a captive audience and no one can leave without having learnt at least one new fact. Rachel has energy to spare but will always have a controlled group behind her.

In her spare time, Rachel can usually be found outside spending time with her chickens, or competing across the country with her horse.

Sandra Barnett - Guide

Enthusiasm is key with Sandra. She inspires many young people to care for and learn about all creatures great and small. Her positive and forward thinking attitude is a credit to her character and this is demonstrated in every tour she conducts.

As a doting grandmother, Sandra is always busy and loves every minute she spends with her family.

Judith Turner - Guide

Judith is a bundle of energy. She creates a fun and interesting atmosphere for all visitors she meets. With many years of experience in the classroom, providing a suitable and successful atmosphere for learning is one of Judiths many skills.

Busy is Judith's middle name, whether she is visiting family, looking after grandchildren or taking a zumba class, Judith is always on the go.

Esther Lewis - Guide and Retail/ Catering assistant

Coming from a photography background, Esther is not your typical guide, however, her thirst for knowledge and willingness to learn has enabled her to challenge many people on what they know about native species. She keeps controlled and organised groups and leaves children bursting with facts. As well as guiding school groups, Esther regularly runs birthday parties for all ages. 

Esther is very adaptable and as such also works regularly in our shop and cafe, where her fantastic public service is best broadcast.

Esther has many interests, in particular, she loves anything medieval, taking part in re-enactments and even had a medieval wedding!

Dominik Reynolds - Guide

He may be young but Dom has a true passion for nature and wildlife. His age puts him at an advantage in our education team as children find it easy to relate to him. For that reason, Dom has had huge success at inspiring the next generation of conservationists.

With university calling, Doms career is set to excel and his experience within the animal industry so far is sure to put him in good stead for the future. Dom has spent time in the Galapagos and uses much of his spare time to volunteer for local wildlife charities.

Tina Manser - Catering Manager

After a long and successful career in the army Tina decided  to pursue a career in catering.  She had gained all the necessary qualifications during her army years and we feel very fortunate that we were advertising for a Catering Manager at the time she was looking for a new career.  She frequently comes in early each day so she can wander round the New Forest Wildlife Park and enjoy our animals and birds. Tina has a great sense of humour and enjoys interacting with our visitors.

Tammy - Catering Supervisor

Tammy joined the catering and retail department in December 2018 as the new supervisor. She has since been a vital part of the team.

Tammy enjoys reading and walking her dog, and spending time with her family.

Tammy use to bring her children to the New Forest Wildlife Park when they were younger and therefore has fond memories of the park

Karen Pring - Retail Manager

Karen has worked at New Forest Wildlife Park since 2007 and is very much part of the furniture. She has a keen interest in all aspectsof the park but is happiest creating a warm welcome for our many visitors so they too can have a thoroughly enjoyable day and hopefully take home a little knowledge of our native wildlife. She always has a smile and will always be happy to assist.

Symon Monger - Head of Building and Maintenance

Symon joined us in 2012 and since then his professional skills have enabled us to refurbish enclosures, construct bison pens and build our unique adventure playgrounds. For 2015 he and Ed built the impressive new accommodation for our harvest mice in the glasshouse. Coffee breaks would not be the same without Symon’s sense of humour.

Ed Heap - General Manager

Ed is a wildlife expert and an all-round fixer, builder and handy man. Like his parents Carol and Roger he’s passionate about conservation and helps to ensure the smooth running of the park and the welfare of all our animals. He is currently working with many others on the conservation of Scottish Wildcats. Ed has been caring for wildlife since he was a young boy, when most of the casualties lived in the family home, and usually the bathroom.

Clare Heap BVSc MRCVS - Vet

Clare and Ed are married and form a formidable team in caring for all our animals and wildlife rescues. Clare divides her time as a vet between small animal clinical work in a local practice in Hythe/Lymington and working at the wildlife park.  At the same time as bringing up two young sons. She says she is married to the business and always on call for the park. Clare has postgraduate qualifications in exotic veterinary practice.