Honey badgers, Mr and Mrs Stoffel arrived at Exmoor Zoo over a year ago but it was only in the last two weeks that a safe and escape proof enclosure was finished, so they could come out to play for everybody to see! Tough, intelligent and even capable of fending off Lions when cornered, the newly arrived pair have certainly kept keepers on their toes trying to occupy them with a variety of puzzles and food devices.
So, how do you ensure an enclosure for such a resourceful creature is escape proof? Easy.
"Put your keepers in the enclosure and see if they can get out, if they can, so can the badgers. It was the ultimate escape room for staff members," Danny Reynolds, Director at Exmoor Zoo said. Locals can rest easy though, not one of the keepers succeeded.
Mr and Mrs Stoffel are honey badgers, which are also known as African Ratels. The name comes from the noise they make when they raid beehives. These particular badgers do in fact eat honey and thanks to Quince Honey Farm have been thoroughly enjoying the best of Exmoor's honey. Highly intelligent, they are two of only a few which can be seen in the UK. Honey badgers have been known to unlock doors and slide bolts and handles. At the moment, their favourite game is a filling a big metal dustbin with rocks and water bowls and rolling it around their home at night.
Danny Reynolds said: "This is an unusual animal to see in a zoo and it has taken a while for Mr and Mrs Stoffel to settle in. Now they have, they can be regularly seen throughout the day, but especially in the afternoon near teatime."
What is extra special about honey badgers is their ferocity. In the wild, if they become cornered, they will attack and are known to drive off bigger predators, like lions and leopards. They have incredibly thick and very loose skin, which makes them difficult to be bitten and are also naturally immune to most snake venom.
The honey badgers have joined some other mustelids (carnivourous members of the weasel family) at Exmoor Zoo, including Asian yellow throated martens and wolverines and in the fullness of time, may even breed and help maintain the population within the zoos of Europe as part of an international breeding programme. Why not pop by Exmoor Zoo and see if you can spot this very large weasel and support your local zoo.
Enjoy a day out in the North-west of Exmoor at Exmoor zoo, one of the “West-country’s hidden gems” on the edge of the National Park. Here you can experience a truly unique rural zoo set into a valley in North Devon. Discover rare and unusual animals seldom found in other zoos like…