New primate rescue facility at Wildheart Animal Sanctuary

By IW May 20, 2022

The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in Sandown will be opening a first-of-its-kind primate rescue facility on Saturday, May 28.

This newly-designed and built structure will house multiple species of primates that the sanctuary aims to rehome over the coming years. The facility is constructed of two gigantic bamboo domes, the first of their kind in Europe.

The largest dome stands 12m (38ft) tall and is constructed from 777 bamboo poles which, laid end to end, would stretch over two km (1 1/4 miles). To complement the eco-domes, there are bedrooms made from 102 bales of straw, an insect-friendly living roof and a self-cleaning living floor, which the animals can access 24 hours a day.

Lawrence Bates, chief operating officer at The Wildheart Sanctuary, said: “This is a landmark building for us and the Island, marrying up the latest cutting-edge technologies with traditional materials to produce a futuristic yet environmentally friendly rescue space. Many visitors have likened this structure to the Eden project and I would certainly agree this is one of the most iconic structures in the south.”

The facility is complete with a second set of bedrooms made with upcycled blocks from a derelict animal house in another area of the sanctuary.

Aligned with a strict zero-waste policy, any unusable blocks were recycled into the pathways, and the offcuts from the bamboo will be made into toys for the sanctuary’s rescued tigers and lions.

Marc Fox, animal manager, said: “I stand in awe in the middle of the giant domed habitat, feeling both proud and excited that we have managed to produce this show-stopping spectacle. I have visited a lot of primate habitats over the years and can honestly and confidently say that this exceeds all my expectations. The sheer size and design of the domes themselves means that we can develop and evolve a real habitat within, which can offer the inhabitants the ability to express their natural behaviours and have the space and complexity to feel safe, enriched and comfortable for the rest of their lives.”

To experience these iconic buildings this half term, book your tickets at



To be in with the chance of winning one of two family tickets to the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary to see the new primate domes, all you have to do is find the monkey hiding somewhere in this edition of the IW Observer.

Once you’ve found it, send the page number, your name, contact details and address by email to, or text 07469 629071. Alternatively you can phone the same number and leave a message. The deadline for entries will be next Friday (May 27) at 9pm. Good luck!