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Pembrokeshire

Dozen homeless penguins find new home at Pembrokeshire’s Folly Farm

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A family of 12 macaroni penguins joined Folly Farm after they lost their home due to the coronavirus pandemic. The penguins found themselves homeless and facing a possible move to a European zoo when Living Coasts in Torquay announced its closure in the Summer.

The six male and six female macaroni penguins were moved before the firebreak lockdown as part of a co-ordinated breeding programme enabling them to remain in the UK. Folly Farm’s Penguin Coast is now the only place in the UK where visitors can see macaroni penguins. The new huddle join four male macaroni penguins – Tony the Don, Frankie the Fish, Vinnie the Voice and Little Nico – affectionately named the “Macaroni Mafia”.

Solly and Roxy join the “Macaroni Mafia” firm (Image: Folly Farm)

Folly Farm Zoo Curator Tim Morphew said: “In an ideal world, we would be welcoming these new penguins to the Folly Farm family under happier circumstances. Zoos across the UK and Europe have had a very difficult year. We’re sad to see Living Coasts close, but a small positive for us is that we’ve been able to able to lend a hand by giving these amazing birds a new home in the UK.”

Classed as a vulnerable species under a European breeding programme we hope to breed these penguins in the near future to help increase numbers in European zoos and, ultimately, the wild.

Meet “Mac” the mac and his pal Flash! (Image: Folly Farm)

Tim added: “We’ve learned from previous experience that macaroni penguins are very laid back, they aren’t fazed by much. We’re lucky at Folly Farm to have a purpose-built penguin quarantine area which gave us an opportunity to spend 30 days getting to know these new macaroni penguins before introducing them to their new housemates at Penguin Coast.

“They’ve settled in beautifully and we’re starting to see their characters and their personalities coming out. They’re a very playful species, they love hopping on the rocks, playing with bubbles and looking at themselves in the mirror. Spud is the grumpy old man of the family at 21 years old, he gets hangry if the keepers take too long to feed him. Yo-yo was hand reared, so he loves people – and himself. Violet is the smallest of the family, she’s very sweet and gentle and already a firm favourite with the keepers.”

Yo-Yo was hand-reared so is super confident and inquisitive! (Image: Folly Farm)

Folly Farm penguin keepers are hoping the macaroni penguin breeding programme will follow the success of their Humboldt penguin breeding programme, which has seen 34 penguin chicks born here over the past six years.

To make room for the new arrivals, nine Humboldt penguins have been relocated to Flamingo Land in north Yorkshire, to join the breeding programme there.

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Tim continued: “The remaining Humboldt penguins were quite excited by the new arrivals and came over to say ‘hello’, but the two groups have split out now and the macaroni penguins have already established their own area of Penguin Coast on the rocky part of the beach.

“Penguins have always been a popular attraction here at Folly Farm, visitors love watching them swim in the underwater viewing area. And, with these new arrivals, we’re expecting to see an increase in the number of sales of our penguin adoption packs in the lead up to Christmas.

“We’re looking forward to getting the breeding programme started next year and hopefully seeing more of these fantastic birds head to new homes across the UK.”

Minnie the Mac! (Image: Folly Farm)

Clare Rugg is senior curator at Paignton Zoo and formerly at Living Coasts. She said: “When we heard that Living Coasts was to close, the first thing we needed to do was to ensure that we fund suitable homes for the animals. We had previously worked with Folly Farm and they already held some of our Macaroni penguins from a previous move.

“Folly Farm was therefore an obvious choice when moving the Macaroni penguins. They have an excellent track record in keeping penguins and had a suitable enclosure for them. The move was also agreed by the European penguin TAG. We were of course sad to see them go but happy knowing they were going to a fantastic new home”


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Carmarthenshire

Proposed locations for controversial new hospital site to be reviewed

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Hywel Dda University Health Board will undertake a review of potential sites as part of the ongoing process to identify a suitable location for a new hospital.

Eleven sites will be assessed on Friday 22 October, including those identified by members of the public during the six-week engagement exercise, which took place earlier this year.

This stage of the process is intended to lead to the creation of a shortlist of sites. This will be subject to further detailed appraisal with significant public and wider stakeholder involvement. The final decision about the chosen site will be made by the health board, in agreement with Welsh Government.

Steve Moore, Chief Executive of Hywel Dda UHB, said: “The building of a new hospital is a major long-term project, which is why we place great emphasis on being open and transparent about the process involved.

“The process we are following includes developing a programme business case to support our strategy for community and hospital-based health and care. As part of the process to apply for funding from the Welsh Government, we will submit the programme business case, and then individual outline business cases, then the final business cases for the new infrastructure we will need. The health board will therefore engage with the public on a regular basis between now and the submission of the final business cases to ensure your views are fully considered.

“I understand and recognise there are passionate feelings about a new hospital, but we strongly believe a new facility is essential for urgent and planned care in the south of the Hywel Dda area. It will provide trauma care and be the main emergency department for the south of our area.

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“I can also reassure the public that we have no plans or intention to close either Glangwili or Withybush hospitals. We will engage further on how these hospitals could work alongside the proposed new hospital.”

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Food & Drink

Pembrokeshire Lamb gets the ‘Golden Fork’ at Great Taste Awards

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Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd has received the highest accolade in the Great Taste Golden Fork awards 2021.

From the eleven Welsh products that received the top honour of 3 gold stars in the Great Taste awards 2021, the Golden Fork from Wales was awarded to Pembrokeshire Lamb Ltd for their Hogget Shoulder.

Pembrokeshire Lamb produce lamb, hogget and mutton on their small family farm in North Pembrokeshire. Steve and Kara Lewis set up the company in 2019, with the aim of creating sustainable meat boxes with the mantra ‘fresh is best’.

Commenting on the 3-star product Pembrokeshire Lamb’s Steve Lewis said: “Our grass fed hogget is from our family farm in Pembrokeshire. It is richer and deeper in flavour than lamb and takes additional flavours very well. The way we rear and hang our hogget leads to a tender and flavoured product.”

In addition to getting a 3-star, they also gained 2-stars for their Lamb Shoulder, Mutton Shoulder, Mutton Mince and 1-star for their Signature Burger which is made with mutton. They also received 1-star  awards for their Brown Sauce and Indian Style Kebab Rub under the brand The Welsh Saucery.

Commenting further on their achievement Steve added: “We’re absolutely delighted to win the Great Taste Golden Fork from Wales award. It is a great achievement for us to have won a number of awards for our products in these prestigious awards and is a real testament to the hard work that we as a family have put into the business.”

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Congratulating Pembrokeshire Lamb on their achievements, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd Lesley Griffiths MS said, “I would like to congratulate Pembrokeshire Lamb on their achievements in this year’s Great Taste Awards. It is great to see Welsh businesses recognised for the outstanding quality of the food they produce.

“The judges from the Guild of Fine Foods have identified produce of the highest quality from every part of Wales, reflecting the hard work and creativity which is characteristic of our world class food industry.

“Everyone at Pembrokeshire Lamb should be very proud and I wish them all the very best for the future.”

Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation scheme for artisan and speciality food producers, and is described as the ‘Oscars’ of the food world.

An exceptional 270 Welsh products ranging from small independent artisan producers to large scale distributors have been deemed worthy of this prestigious award, with 190 products achieving 1-star, 69 receiving 2-stars and 11 earning the gold stamp of approval with 3-stars.

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(Lead image: Pembrokeshire Lamb)

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Carmarthenshire

Health board and councils urge families to look after recovering patients to free up hospital beds

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photo of woman lying in hospital bed

A joint statement from Hywel Dda Health Board, Welsh Ambulance Trust and Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion Councils is calling on families of recovering hospital patients to look after their loved ones at home in order to free up hospital beds.

The statement says that the demand on health and social care services is leading to significant delays including bed shortages and long ambulance waits at A&E departments.

The statement says: “There is currently an unprecedented demand on health and social care services across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, which is leading to significant delays in care provision. Put simply, the difficulty in discharging medically-fit patients from hospital – many of whom have complex personal circumstances and needs – is leading to significant bed shortages, and consequently, lengthy ambulance waits at the ‘front door’ of A&E departments, which mean that paramedics are unable to respond to other 999 calls in the community.

“Social care and Health teams are doing everything possible to support people who are well enough to leave hospital but need ongoing care. Priority is being given to the most vulnerable, and alternative health and care packages are being offered as a short-term measure. More carers and health staff are also being recruited to support people in need.

They added: “If you have a relative or loved one in hospital who is well enough to go home, but is waiting to be discharged with homecare and community health support, you may be able to help them to get home more quickly if you and your family are in a position to support them at home. If your relative is waiting for a formal package of care, you may be able to offer support and care on a short term, temporary arrangement or you might want to consider whether your loved one could be supported in a temporary residential or nursing care setting. If you feel that this is an option that you could consider, please speak to the ward manager or your social worker to explore further.

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“Spending as little time in hospital is better for patients and means that NHS beds can be freed up for others with urgent care needs. Supporting older patients to get home from hospital efficiently is an important part of their recovery and it also protects them from negative consequences of hospital admission, such as hospital acquired infection, falls and a loss of independence.”

The move comes despite an additional £551m in extra funding being promised by Welsh Government in August.

The military also stepped in to help the Welsh Ambulance Service this week.

Lead image: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com)

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