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Marwell Zoo cultivates careers and grows future talent thanks to LEP funding

MARWELL Zoo is cultivating careers thanks to investment into its unique £7.8 million Tropical House exhibit – its largest and most ambitious project to date.

A £1.5 million Local Growth Fund (LGF) grant from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is enabling Marwell Zoo, an iconic regional asset, to grow future talent.

The Tropical House, a state-of-the-art exhibit where a rainforest and living laboratory will come to life, represents a critical venture as part of a 10 year £17 million investment strategy to offer improved habitats for animals and a more immersive experience for guests.

The project is designed to bring low carbon, rural and tourism economy benefits and is anticipated to continue to uplift Marwell Zoo’s contribution to jobs and the economy over five years.

Abi Cain earned a full-time contract at Marwell Zoo following a successful 12-month horticulture apprenticeship in partnership with Sparsholt College.

Abi, 18, said: “I have found my dream career at Marwell. I can’t imagine doing anything else now. It may seem simple but there is nothing more satisfying than planting a seed and watching it grow and develop.

“The apprenticeship at Marwell has given me self-confidence and with a bit more confidence, it makes life a lot easier.”

Abi, who was awarded a Level 2 Diploma in Practical Horticulture following her apprenticeship, now works as a Plants and Landscapes Assistant and is playing a vital role in the Tropical House development under the wing of Lance Ingram, Head of Plants and Landscapes.

Abi, who is now completing A Levels distance learning courses in Environmental Studies and English, explained: “When I first came to Marwell for my interview, Lance showed me a model of the Tropical House and what is was going to be like. I have gone from the most basic gardening at home with a passion for horticulture at the age of 18, to being part of planning out a giant Tropical House. It really is such a massive achievement and I feel incredibly proud to be part of that.

“It was amazing seeing it go from paper to practice and being part of the team where everyone has our own responsibilities. I helped to plan out the best position for the plants, the soil levels, and getting the plants from the lorries inside.

“Now all the plants are all in place, it’s a huge achievement. We will be growing cotton and pineapple, the things people consume so they can fully appreciate the natural world. It will be hugely rewarding to grow our own fruit in the Tropical House too. I take care of the vegetable patch behind Marwell Hall and the vegetables go up to the restaurant and to the animals too. That’s really rewarding.

“The apprenticeship opportunity has changed me as a person massively. I’ve developed people skills, to listen and learn, I’ve become more confident, more motivated and the people I work with are great. I’ve made a lot of friends.

“It’s definitely shaped me as a person and it has given me goals for my future.

“There are a lot of pressures in life being young but with a job like this, it gives you confidence and I’m incredibly grateful. It makes my day when our guests comment on the grounds and the plants and I’m really looking forward to the public seeing inside the Tropical House.”


About Marwell Zoo:

Marwell Zoo, home to more than 140 species, is owned by Marwell Wildlife, a global conservation charity leading programmes in the UK, Africa and across the world. The charity engages with over 400,000 children and young people through conservation educational programmes and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors each year to its 140 acre site.

About Local Growth Fund


Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.

That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.

Analysis has shown that every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits.

Further information

If you would like some further facts about the Fund, or the wider regeneration work going on across the country, please contact DCLG press office by emailing in the first instance to request any additional information you might need.

Some additional key facts:

  • There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England
  • The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
  • LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects informed by detailed analysis of the most pressing economic needs in each of their areas, including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.