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Colchester Zoo Colchester Zoo history

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Roonwit, 20 Oct 2011.

  1. Roonwit

    Roonwit Member

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    Greetings!

    I am currently writing the authorised history of Colchester Zoo, to coincide with its 50th anniversary in 2013.

    I am looking for people with memories of the Zoo from days gone by.

    If you worked at the Zoo, have any particular stories that you'd like to share with me or - even better - a good photograph that I might include in the publication then please add to this thread or private-message me!

    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  2. sasha242

    sasha242 Well-Known Member

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    Two water buffalo once escaped from the zoo and were found in a nearby field but i don't know the date sorry, just a little something
    Hope it helps.
     
  3. Roonwit

    Roonwit Member

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    Ah yes, I have seen the reports about that - well remembered! Thanks for the reply
     
  4. zooman64

    zooman64 Well-Known Member

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    I am so pleased that somebody is finally writing the history of Colchester Zoo, as it is astonishing that, for such a major collection, there has never been a book about it. It's a project I did once consider undertaking myself, as its a zoo I visit regularly and in fact have done from the 1960s, but the big stumbling block that I could see was that proper records were not maintained in the Frank Farrar days and it was only after the Tropeanos took it over that records have been kept. So I felt that investigating the very early days was going to be difficult, so well done, Roonwit, for embarking on a long overdue project. I have guides and old postcards, so if I can be of any help at all, please do contact me.
     
  5. Roonwit

    Roonwit Member

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    Many thanks for your reply, zooman64; I'll private-message you shortly.
     
  6. bugs

    bugs Well-Known Member

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    Hope the book is coming along well, I can't wait to read it.

    Regarding the history of Colchester Zoo, I've just found this footage from the East Anglian Film Archive from 1970:

    East Anglian Film Archive: Look East: Jungle Jim: Nyoka, 1970

    It says that they can not confirm the location but it seems most likely that it is Colchester, due to the church in the back ground, the hilly surface and road nearby.
     
  7. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    The early big cat enclosures at Colchester were not next to a main road as in this film. However, I remember seeing Nkoka performing there with a big lion -- not the zoo's resident male, but one he brought with him -- some time in the sixties. In the arly days they had such things as Tayra, Grison & Pacas.
     
  8. Roonwit

    Roonwit Member

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    Thank you so much, bugs - that is absolutely splendid and thoroughly fascinating. Well found! Based on other evidence I have, the footage is almost beyond doubt from Colchester Zoo and is the most gripping piece of television I have so far seen in all of 2012!

    FBBird, many thanks for your reply also. The zoo's own cat enclosures may not have been by the road, but Nyoka's collection lived there only temporarily and may well have been put near the road! It sounds as if you may be a long-time visitor to the zoo. Please, feel free to send me a private message if you like - even apparently trivial memories may be of great value to me.
     
  9. Bele

    Bele Well-Known Member

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    Great to see the film of Nick Nyoka's performance with 'Simba' ( I think he was called ) . I saw him a year or two later in Sherwood Zoo where he was resident for a while - I remember the lion drinking the milk !
     
  10. karenZOO

    karenZOO Well-Known Member

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    No wonder the cats did not want to eat him they seemed very well fed!!! I wonder if the cheetah could lift its belly off the floor?

    Although I went in the 60s, 70s I was too young to have memories of it all just snippets but where they were standing outside Stanway Hall they used to walk the elephants (who were where the sealion pool is now) every afternoon to be fed buns? Later on the built a small metal fence to keep the elephants in at feed time.

    I can remember the tigers and possibly jaguar cages being in a row at one stage.

    The birds all used to be over by the church and the church ruins at one stage had vultures in it.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2012
  11. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Colchester Zoo

    I remember aviaries around the old church with Barn & Tawny Owls, Andean Condors and Silver Pheasants among others.
     
  12. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I had a look at the archive film and although there seems to be nothing absolutely specific, I'd say that was definately Colchester Zoo. The hilly ground, and enclosure type both look familiar, so does the road just outside the zoo and the shots with the Snake in front of what looks like Stanway Hall. Didn't see anything of the old Church though?

    Also as its an 'East Anglia' Archive, by a process of elimination, where else could it be in that region that looks so similar?
     
  13. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I have a postcard of that too. 'Simba' was billed 'world's largest(or heaviest) Lion' -or something like that, he was certainly the fattest-bellied...;)
     
  14. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I'm eagerly looking forward to reading the forthcoming book.

    Fascinating piece of film.

    I agree with you; it definitely looks like Colchester Zoo to me. The building certainly looks like Stanway Hall and the road running alongside the boundary seems reminiscent of Colchester too.

    The old Church Tower can be seen about two minutes into the film where Nyoka is with the tiger cubs.

    Incidentally, digressing from Colchester Zoo, I can recall seeing Nyoka with the lion 'Simba' in the late 1960s at Sandown Zoo on the Isle of Wight.

    'Simba' was billed as the largest lion in the world and he certainly was a huge beast. I recall Nyoka pouring a bottle of milk into the lion's mouth..
     
  15. Bele

    Bele Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to continue with the digression but does anyone know how many collections hosted Nick Nyoka and his lion and other stock in the late 1960's to the 1970's - we have had mention of Sandown IOW , Colchester and Sherwood in this post . I assume he started Knaresborough at the end of these travels .
     
  16. zooman64

    zooman64 Well-Known Member

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    I too strongly believe the footage to be of Colchester. It did amuse me when the interviewer asked the clearly able-bodied Nick Nyoka, apparently quite seriously, whether he'd ever had a leg torn off by one of his big cats.
     
  17. Goretex

    Goretex Well-Known Member

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    On a broshure I have that was done in probably the 1970s the lion cage is near the house and hence near the road.
     
  18. zooman64

    zooman64 Well-Known Member

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    Dear Roonwit, Hope the book is going well. I have posted a private message for you.
     
  19. sasha242

    sasha242 Well-Known Member

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    giraffes

    Hi there roonwit i've found out that the zoo kept giraffes in an enclosure around where the komodo dragons are now i also remember the zoo taking down the building where the giraffes were kept
     
  20. Goretex

    Goretex Well-Known Member

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    Yes that was the giraffe house. With their paddock behind that. I haven't managed to actually find out anything spercefic as far as this matter is concerned as it is before my time. I imagine when it was built it was the most major zoo building that actually had animals live in it.

    The house was demolished in Janary 2005 although it had been unlived in for a long time before that. The paddock must have been demolished well before that.

    I hope you have found out stuff about this building Roonwit.