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Town/City Zoos what makes them a success

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by garyjp, 25 Oct 2014.

  1. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

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    Generally now it seems the town/city zoo has become a thing of the past with a few notable exceptions London,Belfast,Edinburgh,Chester,Bristol,Dudley,Blackpool,Newquay,
    Colchester etc.
    Taking away the three capital city Zoos and looking at the others why have they been successful is it quality of the Zoo is it a geographical thing ? have Blackpool and Newquay done well because of tourism in the summer months?
    Why have these stayed open and yet Galasgow,Aberdeen,Cromer,Plymouth,Southampton,Poole & Belle Vue (Manchester ) closed?
     
  2. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    It seems like a simple question, but I'm afraid there isn't a simple answer. The town and city zoos you name are actually quite different. Chester is on the edge of the city and is mainly surrounded by farmland, much of which is owned by the zoo thanks to Mr Mottershead's foresight. Colchester is not dissimilar. Bristol, Paignton, Dudley and Blackpool are in or beside green spaces in urban areas, as is Regents Park. Only Newquay is completely hemmed in.
    Favourable factors include:
    • tourism, as you say (which also helps London and Edinburgh)
    • a large population within a reasonable distance and good motorway access (which helps Blackpool, Bristol, Chester and Dudley among others)
    • a sufficient area of land
    • support from the local authority (Blackpool and Newquay were originally owned by their councils, Belfast still is)
    • good management - the most important of all

    Alan
     
  3. Shorts

    Shorts Well-Known Member

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    If you take "city zoo" as meaning a zoo pretty much in the centre of city restricted by a finite space (usually small by modern zoo standards) and hampered by historic and listed buildings then I think the reason most of the zoos you mention have done well is they're not really city zoos.

    Chester, Colchester and, to a lesser extent, Blackpool are all vast zoos some way away from the "city" centre and they have flourished, in part, because of this -effectively being near concentrations of populations without being restricted in many ways.

    Two zoos, ignoring the capital city ones as suggested by yourself, which may just about qualify as city zoos (though being in towns) are Newquay and Dudley which have had long, troubled journeys to survive and thrive. I suspect others in their situations have fell by the wayside along the way, the law of averages mean some zoos will get things right (eventually) and survive.

    The capital city zoos have probably survived due to various combinations of large surrounding populations, tourists and local civic support (of varying degrees).
     
  4. adrian1963

    adrian1963 Well-Known Member

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    I think the town zoos that have survived have done so through good management and long tern foresight by their owners (excluding Blackpool which was taken over recently) I know Dudley Zoo has been close to closing on more than one occasion but under the current management looks to have got a good future with no debt.

    If a zoo as other attractions other than the zoo itself I think this helps but getting people through the turn styles isn't easy these days so I think ALL current operating collections deserve a big thank you and keep up the good work
     
  5. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    I forgot one point in my previous answer: there have been a lot of closures of rural zoos in the UK too - think of Cricket St Thomas, Kilverstone, Mole Hall, Riber Castle, Windsor Safari Park, Peakirk (WWT), Norfolk Wildlife Park and many bird gardens. Of course there is no single reason for their closures, it's always complicated.

    Alan
     
  6. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

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    I agree there is probably no single reason but I imagine the big one for rural collections is accessability and the also the fact some of these establishments were not really user friendly on a cold november morning for instance.
    Playing devils advocate could Windsor not have downsized to a Zoo with a theme park - its all academic now but an idea ?
     
  7. garyjp

    garyjp Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps with the city/town zoos that we have left perhaps there is more of a running theme which they have in common.Keeping the capital zoos out of the equation again do these collections keep re inventing themselves or their exhibits or their facilities ? Do they have to do this more than a rural Zoo? Are these zoos customer friendly in the winter for instance? perhaps its a puzzle that can't be solved but take any of the town/city zoo's that closed and ask why ? Or if any of the city/town zoos would of been in the next city/town would they have survived If Colchester was at Ipswich or Bristol - Swindon or Dudley - Wolverhampton ?