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ZSL London Zoo The Mappin Terrace bear enclosures

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by johnstoni, 5 Aug 2010.

  1. johnstoni

    johnstoni Well-Known Member

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    I never saw the bears on the mappin terraces. They had just left when I first went up onto the structure in 1985.

    Seeing a recent photo of two sloth bears fighting in the left-hand side enclosure in 1982 ingnited my interest in what was actually kept on the terraces in the last few years before it closed in 1985:

    Sloth Bears - London Zoo 1982 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

    I am interested in finding out how many bear enclosures there were in total, and would like to hear memories of what species were kept in each from those who saw them at London. Apart from the polar bears, which I know went to Dudley, does anyone know what other bears left in 1985, and where they might have gone to?

    I am also interested in where the underwater viewing window for Polar bears was situated, which of the enclosures was meant for this species?
     
  2. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I think there were five or six in total. A detailed map of the Mappins should show you exactly. There are a lot of postcards/old photos over the years which show the range of species; Brown, Syrian, American Black & Himalayan in the various enclosures. I know American Black and Himalayan shared an enclosure at one time.

    The polar bears were normally in the one(s) nearest the Reptile House. I can't remember the underwater viewing properly.

    At one time 'small' black bears were also exhibited in the semi-circular enclosure near the old Clock/Camel House. This was demolished when the Sobell Pavilions were built. This also housed a mix, certainly the Spectacled Bears which went to Whipsnade, possibly also Malayan Sun and/or Asiatics.
     
  3. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    There were six bear enclosures on the Mappin Terraces, with the two enclosures at either end of the terraces having pools for polar bears. If you were facing the goat hills, then the polar bears were normally kept in the rightmost end enclosure.

    The ZSL Annual Report for 1985/1986 lists the following bears at London Zoo on 1st January 1985

    2 Asiatic black bear
    4 brown bear
    1 American black bear
    2 polar bear
    1 sloth bear

    Although these bears were sent away during the year, the report also lists two polar bears arriving from Chessington that year, so that there were still two polar bears shown as being present in the collection on 31st December 1985.

    The ZSL Annual Report for 1986/1987, therefore, shows two polar bears present in the collection on 1st January 1986, although none were shown as being present at the end of that year.
     
    Last edited: 5 Aug 2010
  4. johnstoni

    johnstoni Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Pertinax and Tim.

    I wondered where Bonnie and Clyde would have been housed while their Chessington enclosure was refurbished, before going back to the newly-rockworked pit at the 'world of adventures' for another six years. It's interesting that, around the time that the public plans for the mappins were the 'arctic tundra' exhibit, and following the closure of the stucture, that there were actually polar bears on the terraces.

    I wonder if the two polar bears were given the run of the whole bear area, or restricted to the one enclosure, while at London.

    The sloth bear leaving London must have been the last in the UK before the return of this species to the same site just over a decade later.
     
  5. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    The London Zoo spectacled bears were sent to Whipsnade in 1968.

    Kodiak bears were also housed in the old Lubetkin Gorilla House circa late 1950s / early 1960s
     
  6. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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    The viewing window for polar bears was on the right hand set of steps (as we had concluded in a previous thread) but was sealed up before I saw it. I have read somewhere that a Syrian bear went to Dartmoor Zoo and was still there when Ben Mee took over. I saw the Chessington polar bears on the terraces after they had closed but didn't realise that was what was going on, I assumed they were the London bears waiting to leave. They appeared to have access to just one section. Theroretically they could have given them access to the others but given where they had come from, one section was probably deemed adequate and would certainly have been easier to manage. I will post some relevant Pathe films that may be of interest, separately.
     
  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I remember it now, but only as a boarded up window. Somewhow I never saw it when it was in use. Does anyone know how long the underwater viewing was in operation? I think it may have been closed because it leaked.

    The Syrian bear was evidently 'Fudge' who is still at Dartmoor.
     
  8. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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  9. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    These are great! Lots of memories here!:)
     
  10. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Agreed; these are great. The second one is especially interesting as it brings back memories of the old bear enclosure that was demolished to make way for the Sobell Pavilions.
     
  11. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Was this before they had the mixed black and spectacled bears in here? The other half of this enclosure(behind) was Chi Chi's first enclosure.
     
  12. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I can recall various species of bears kept in this enclosure at different times. Yes I think that this would have been before the black and spectacled bears were kept here but, to be honest, after some forty years I cannot remember the exact sequence of its occupancy.

    Actually, the exhibit behind this one was Chi-Chi’s second enclosure; she was kept originally in the pit near the old Lion House that was subsequently converted into a seal pond.
     
  13. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Same problem as me. I can remember the Black and Spectacled Bears in here but not quite when it was exactly but it must have been directly before the Spectacled pair went to Whipsnade in 1968 as they weren't kept elsewhere at London, so probably after these Polar Bears.

    Of course you are right about Chi Chi's first enclosure.
     
  14. johnstoni

    johnstoni Well-Known Member

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    The British Pathe films are great.

    It would make sense to me if the Syrian brown bear in many of the later Mappins photographs is indeed 'Fudge', as this Dartmoor animal does not resemble a European brown bear. If this is true, the operation to empty the Mappins really didn't seem to be one based on welfare....Fudge and Hayley at Dartmoor were literally held in a small pit for many years. If he had only lived there for 8 years or so, arriving in 1985, then all the better. Maybe London really did believe they would acquire the funds to create the 'arctic tundra' exhibit they planned at the time for the terraces.
     
  15. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    This is(or certainly was) a classic scenario for some Zoos when they have surplus animals or species they don't want any more. Many animals such as male Gorillas, hybrid Orangutans and Polar Bears have over the years been sent even from some of the most reputable collections in the UK to live the rest of their lives in substandard enclosures in smaller UK zoos or to East European Zoos(because these places are the only ones which will take them.) Its been very much a case of 'out of sight, out of mind.'

    But Howletts/PL is one organisation that have never parted with their animals like this- if animals are leaving they check if the new accomodation is suitable beforehand, and if they don't like it, the animal(s) doesn't go. They get brownie points for that IMO.
     
  16. MARK

    MARK Well-Known Member

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    It's amazing how barren those old bear pit were can any of you guys remember any of the bear pits having any large wooden logs or tree stumps to climb around on?

    @Pertinax, Yes I agree Howletts/PL also get points from myself as well
     
  17. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    The short answer is 'NO' and I did visit the Mappins many times when the Bears were there.
     
  18. Pacu

    Pacu Well-Known Member

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    The polar bears sometimes had plastic barrels (and therefore bits of plastic barrel) floating in the pools but I have no recollection of logs or enrichment of any sort for the other bears even towards the end of the period the terraces were in use. Apparently the polar bears in the pre-Mappin enclosure did not make great use of the water, so it was a conscious decision to give them smaller pools in the sections at either end of the terraces. In their day they were clearly a great improvement on previous pits but I do find it shocking to think they remained so barren until closing. That said, they were one of my favourite parts of the zoo and as a child I found them exciting and will not forget the rush to get up the steps before the rest of my family.
     
  19. johnstoni

    johnstoni Well-Known Member

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    Also one of the few things they had in their favour was that they were not actually 'pits', unlike the enclosures the polar and possibly syrian brown bears went to.
     
  20. johnstoni

    johnstoni Well-Known Member

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    I know zoos have done this quietly, however it seems not at all that quiet for London to have emptied an entire section of the zoo supposedly because the enclosures were no longer suitable for the bears, only to then send them to far less suitable enclosures elsewhere. There is sort of a vanity to that, if they couldn't be seen to continue with bears on the Mappins, as opposed to needing to find the individual bears better accommodation.

    I am aware though that I don't actually know the reason why the terraces were emptied in their entirety, my guess is that the arctic exhibit was actually planned, I'm sure I read at the time that Pipaluk and Mosha were loaned to Dudley at first, however those plans quickly became the planned szechuan exhibit by the time Dudley was ready to give up its polar bears.