A POPULAR Teignbridge wildlife organisation has become one of the first to bring poetry to its animals.

Shaldon Wildlife Trust has brought in its first poet in residence in the shape of Stephen J Fowler, founder of the European Poetry Festival.

Stephen will be collaborating through the year, using poetry to talk about animals, zoos and conservation.

A chase visit to the zoo last year prompted Stephen to suggest the idea of him becoming its poet in residence.

He said: ‘I am pleased to announce that throughout 2024 I shall be poet in residence at the remarkable Shaldon Wildlife Trust.

‘Hospitable and generous staff make up a remarkable community that runs and supports the zoo, which also runs some amazing conservation programs.

‘As a Devonian myself, this is a special project for me, connected to the wonderful people which make the county so unique.’

The trust is renowned nationally and internationally for its breeding and conservation work.

Zak Showell, director of the trust said: ‘We always like to do things a little differently here and the opportunity to have a poet in residence was something that immediately piqued our interest.

‘I’m not aware of any other UK zoo currently having a poet in residence which makes this project even more exciting.’

The residency will include two public events, a small limited-edition publication, film documentation and more.

The new poems will primarily be about the animals at Shaldon, from binturongs, lemurs and loris’ to armadillos, dart frogs and lovebirds.

Zak said: ‘New and exciting projects like this will expose new audiences to the inhabitants and work of the trust plus collaborating with such a wonderful person like Stephen only strengthens the work we do.’

More details about the public events will be announced on Shaldon Wildlife Trust’s webpage and social media in the near future.