Our visitors tell us they love seeing wildlife up close. They also love hearing from our experts. So we’re combining the two in a fantastic new Living Wetlands Theatre and Aviary. Simon Rose, our Capital Developments Manager, gives us a first look at the plans.

Slimbridge 2020 is a chance to create experiences that visitors will really remember. Take a seat in the open-air Theatre for our live and interactive demonstrations, and you’ll see beautiful wetland birds in free flight, while our presenters introduce the wonderful species on stage. Or maybe you’d like to join the debate with researchers, scientists and TV wildlife experts as they explore the big environmental issues in our Changing World events.

We hope visitors will be just as captivated by the rare sights and sounds of the Aviary, inspired by the perfect British wetlands walk. We’re planning to create a Diving Duck tank at eye level, for unique views of our ducks swimming and feeding underwater. And even experienced birders may never have seen a rare Bearded Reedling. We love these chatty and charming birds, and we’re designing part of the aviary as a reed-bed, so that visitors can admire them too. Our experts will be on the spot to answer questions and point out their favourite features.

This flagship development is designed to be a model for 21st century conservation, and a big part of a visit to Slimbridge: we’re hoping that over 50,000 people a year will join us for theatre events, and around 200,000 will follow the trail through the aviary.

We’ll know we’ve got it right if it’s fun and exciting, and also leaves people feeling they’ve got a special insight into what we do: the working life of science and conservation. We hope they’ll think differently about the future of the world’s wetlands, and maybe feel inspired to get involved – whether through volunteering, or just by making the time to appreciate the wildlife in their park or garden.

We’ll keep you updated as the plans take shape. We appreciate everyone’s patience and support, and we would like to say a special ‘thank you’ to all those who have donated to Slimbridge 2020 so far.