Join our zoo community

Introducing myself and a rattle about Riber Zoo memories

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Froggatt, 17 Oct 2017.

  1. Froggatt

    Froggatt New Member

    17 Oct 2017
    My name is Gena, born in 1970 and I reside in Lincolnshire although grew up in Kimberley, Nottinghamshire. I used to run Rosah guinea pig rescue and then Lincs Little Hens when I saved caged hens from slaughter by purchasing them from the farmer before the slaughter men got chance and then I rehabilitated any that needed it and rehomed them. All were bald, most had wounds from being pecked, some had paralysis in their neck as they'd stood hunched up, broken toes were commonplace, beaks cut so short the birds struggled to earptband some even had prolapses from continuous laying weakening their muscles. I spent most of my days rehabitating those birds, it was my vocation but sadly as well as costs going up and some people not wanting to even cover what I'd paid the farmer for the hens plus my fibromyalgia getting so much worse that I sometimes was using a wheelchair, I felt unable to carry on. Even though I use my wheelchair full time now, I still yearn to get back into it. Hens still need me! I hoped my children would take over but the daughter who was most interested, now lives elsewhere. I have kept the poultry crates which were bought with donations and fully intend to use them again.

    The reason I have joined this forum is that I have been reading some of your old posts about Riber Castle above Matlock in Derbyshire. I remember the place so well as Kimberley pre school playgroup always visited there when my sister and I attended, I'm sure I went on a school trip too as I recall the coach struggling on the access road as it was so narrow.
    My Dad was the driver in the family back in the 1970's and our family trips would be to either Riber Castle or Twycross zoo and my parents used to have photos of me as a baby at Sherwood Zoo in Hucknall, Notts (which I think later became a co-op distribution centre and a public house called The Lodge at Hucknall). I don't have personal memories of Sherwood Zoo but used to be taken to The Lodge with my first boyfriend when I was fifteen.
    My greatest memories are of Riber. I was very imaginative and creative minded and would dream of living there, I'd happily sit on the hill looking at what was below and wishing I could sit there every day watching the world go by. I'd make up my own little scenarios whereby the animals there were my pets. I was under ten years old so can be forgiven my daftness.

    My parents used to say that visiting Riber was expensive, even though it was closer to us than Twycross, I remember them saying that Twycross was cheaper than Riber yet had so much more to offer and whilst I adored the primates at Twycross, I far preferred Riber. For a time, my mother worked at Kimberley Autocar. She'd often clear things out of cars which had been part exchanged and common practice was to just dump road maps etc in the bin and once she found an envelope containing Riber Castle free tickets. I can't remember what they were called now but she was a little nervous about using them. By then (1980), she was a driver herself and so in school holidays for the first year or so after passing her test, myself and my sister would get some extra days out in school holidays whilst our dad was working. Upon visiting what by then was called Riber Wildlife Park, she handed over the tickets hoping they'd be accepted. They were and strangely enough she was handed some new ones as replacements so we had no idea what they'd initially been issued to someone for but it meant years of free entry to the park, which was nice as we went several times each year. My sister benefitted more than I as my mothers driving was so atrocious that I chose to stay home after the first year of extra trips. I preferred to go places with my Dad driving :)
    I always thought the 'castle' had been in a fire with the stone seemingly blackened and it's only tonight from reading online as I've realised I was mistaken. It was always derelict though, as long as I remember it, however I'm delighted to find out that it's now been transformed into flats, there are some lucky people who live there now.
    I recall the play area for children with the sandpit and tractor, I loved that tractor! It started a life long love of them, I was in my own little dream world of being a farmer when sitting on it. I recall horrid little boys clambering on it and annoying me :) I remember in one of the display areas, there was a long room with an old fire engine roped off to keep kids away, also a miniature railway set, again which I loved. My mum used to tell me about a golden eagle who used to sit atop a wooden tower but she said he was stolen. One year someone had lynx cubs on leads and collars and walked around the park and I will never forget stroking them, I think there were three of them but it's a very long time ago. The wallabies were always a hit with me but my favourites were the raccoons. My brainless mother (who likes to wear real fur) fed one a salt and vinegar crisp through the enclosure and its little hand came through to bars to accept it.
    There were some great farm animals which I appreciated, especially the Charolais bull who was massive!
    One thing sticks in my mind from a visit was the devastating animal rights activism. I'm all in favour of animal rights but releasing any captive animal from an enclosure into the wild, is downright stupidity. Around the café area was vandalism and graffiti which I associated with the extremists. I thought that Riber was a lovely place for the animals. The enclosures weren't teeny but not massive either. If anything, the public suffered a little as the place was what I'd call ramshackle but I never saw a suffering animal there.
    The Riber Castle lynx breeding programme seemed to be successful as Riber would occasionally be on central news along with Molly Badham of Twycross with whatever baby primate she was hand rearing that particular year.
    I have no idea what happened in the end to 'Riber Zoo'. Where did the animals go? I was married by the time the park closed. I'm unaware of the year but my husband and I only made one visit as a family. It did seem to be run down but I asked myself if it had always been like that, and had I perhaps just glorified it over the years with my childlike mind? Sometime afterwards my sister sent me a press cutting showing there was to be an auction of items there such as café equipment. I've no idea if the livestock was sold in this manner or whether it went to other wildlife parks. I just hope everything found a home and that no animal or bird lost its life as a result of becoming homeless.
    I'm disappointed that I never was able to take my own brood to visit. Both my husband and I have such fond childhood memories and it's not quite the same when we tell our children of our days there, as it would be to just take them (having turned the clock back to approximately 1975-1980.)
    To see the luxury flats online is great. I'm happy that the folly is once again in use. As I said, I dreamt of living there but then my family tease me as I always love derelict places.

    Looking forward to reading anything on Riber Castle or Twycross Zoo (I've not been there since 1998)

    MRJ and jayjds2 like this.
  2. bongorob

    bongorob Well-Known Member

    18 May 2007
    Stoke-on-Trent England
    Welcome to Zoochat Gena, I only went to Riber once, in 1988, and I don't remember much about it.

    zootierlist has listed the following species exhibited in the park

  3. agnmeln

    agnmeln Well-Known Member

    29 Dec 2017
    Welcome and thank you for sharing your cute memories!
  4. TheGerenuk

    TheGerenuk Well-Known Member

    8 Sep 2017
    Brampton, Ontario, Canada
    Welcome to Zoochat!
  5. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

    10 Dec 2012
    fijnaart, the netherlands
    Great introduction and from the Netherlands, welcome to ZooChat !