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Which UK Zoo that has closed would you like to see re-open ?

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by garyjp, 10 Feb 2019.

  1. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Agree with Andrew's list above, knew them all fairly well, except for Flamingo Gardens, which sadly I never visited. I actually can't think of a zoo I wouldn't want to see resurrected!
     
  2. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    I liked Southport. Any institution or organisation can only be judged against the standards and expectations of its time. It was a good zoo run by knowledgeable and experienced people.
     
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  3. FBBird

    FBBird Well-Known Member

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    Rode was lovely.
     
  4. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    Flamingo Gardens was stunning. One mans eclectic personal collection. I visited it with my parents, and met my ex-wife there when she was head-keeper. I got to know Christopher very well as a result, but lost contact after the auction. Its bird collection was remarkable - every species of wild goose, including Kelp, breeding Spurwings and Magpies, every species of Flamingo, every species of Pelican, Cranes including a pair of Siberian White. Huge aviaries with flocks of Ibis and softbills, Grey-headed Gulls, dozens of wing-clipped Crowned Pigeons walking at liberty in the 'wilderness'; an area of woodland set behind the walled gardens. No parrots, but Bald and Fish Eagles, Lammergier, Condors, Blakiston's Fish Owl and others I dont recall. A few mammals of interest to the owner - White Wallabies descended from stock which Christopher managed to get gifted to the Queen during a royal visit to Australia, and ancestors of all those we see today; Dwarf Zebu, Yaks, Alpacas (at a time when they were almost unknown in UK Zoos), Fennec Foxes, Blackbuck, Dall Sheep... It was only open in the summer months, only in the afternoons and only at weekends, bank holidays and certain weekdays - I assume because there were planning issues as in the early days at Howletts. No catering, toilet shed in the car-park and a garden shed for selling tickets and a few gifts - but remember at the time Twycross only had a gift-'shed' with a hatch feeding an outdoor queue, Rotterdam the same too..
     
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  5. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    This is purely theoretical of course. I visited most of the collections mentioned above, except for Norfolk Wildlife Park, Padstow and Southport, but not necessarily when they were at their best. It is easy to look wistfully at species lists but it can be misleading, for example when reading TLD's list of the species at Kilverstone you have to realise that they didn't have all those species at the same time, and some of them were kept in other collections in those days (including dusky titi, Illiger's tamarin, grey fox and little chachalaca). I only visited Kilverstone once and I certainly didn't see most of those species. Likewise I visited RSCC too early to see some of the choicer animals that arrived later. I did like Flamingo Gardens as mentioned above and I have some photos in the United Kingdom - Other Gallery of splendid species including white-tailed sea eagles, great bustards, painted storks and one of those Siberian white cranes.
    If I interpret the original question correctly, it could be reworded as 'which of the closed collections had the most exciting assortment of species?'
    My answer would be unequivocal, Len Hill's original Birdland at Bourton-on-the-Water. I realise that this is ironic, as it is the only one that has reopened. The resurrected version has much more space and much larger aviaries and enclosures (although some of them are now showing their ages) but the collection is bread-and-butter compared to the splendid patisserie of the original - for good and proper reasons, of course.
    The original Birdland was tiny and quirky, with narrow twisting paths and lots of little plaques with quaint sayings in unexpected places. But the collection of birds was nonpareil (to use a word that is quaint and quirky too). Free-flying macaws, including a pair of hyacinthines, Lear's macaws (in an aviary), lories galore, swift parakeets, Pesquet's parrots, king cormorants and quite a few softbills. On my first visit, with my father, there were three tropical houses with a variety of hummingbirds (not uncommon to see a few in the '70s, but never so many species) and I remember a Jamaican streamertail trying to pluck a wispy hair from my father's head in the the walk-through tropical house (actually it was more of a walk, stand in awe for a while and then walk out again). Look in the Gallery for my photos of king cormorants, Wilson's bird of paradise, toucan barbet, Narina's trogons, resplendent quetzal and paradise flycatchers. On my final visit there was a new tropical house near the exit, it was a walk-through with half a dozen red birds of paradise :cool:
     
  6. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    If I interpret the original question correctly, it could be reworded as 'which of the closed collections had the most exciting assortment of species?'

    I remember Birdland pretty much as described above. Stock-wise and in attention to detail, it was certainly king of the bird gardens, and like the rest must have been fueled by the bird trade with a considerable stock turn-over. I visited a couple of times and the hummingbird house was as described as above, but there we no birds of paradise or Pesquet's which had to wait until Blijdorp many years later. Did they keep birds long enough to have any breeding success, like Stagsden, Flamingo Gardens or Norfolk?

    With regard to TLDs list, I visited Kilverstone many, many times, met the Fishers on several occasions and we received Red-bellied Tamarins from them. I never saw a Pacarana, Dusky Titi, either Olingo spp or Spiny Rat; and the Pampas Cat must have been there, but I never saw it. Marail Guans and Little Chachalaca were bred elsewhere, and Graham Dangerfield advertised home bred Grey Foxes pretty much every week in the Cage & Aviary - so I guess some of the spp were just single individuals or were quite short lived? They certainly had a pair of Tayra on the way into the walled garden and Grison inside it. I remember (it?) as a Lesser...
     
  7. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Both forms of olingo were bred at Kilverstone; I recall seeing Lady Fisher wheeling a hand-reared olingo round in a doll's pram!
    Kilverstone's grey fox were born at London Zoo.
     
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  8. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    A common form of transport for much of the collection, mammals at any rate...

    A brief precis - Falabella Horses/Kilverstone Hall Wildlife Park
     
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  9. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Of these....

    Pacarana - I have a feeling I once heard that the individual/individuals at Kilverstone came from Zurich, which kept the species between 1970 and 1985, in which case Kilverstone would have had the species at some point in this timespan.

    Dusky Titi - these were bred in 1983, and still kept in 1990 according to the guidebook published in that year.

    Lowland Olingo - these were first bred in 1983 - a UK first breeding - and kept at the collection until it closed in 1992.

    Northern Olingo - these were first bred in 1982 - a European first breeding - and kept until 1991, at which point only a single individual was kept. This individual was sent to Wilhelma, where it was present from 1991 until 1999, and subsequently moved to Kerzers where it remained from 1999 until it died in 2006. At this time it was the last Olingo in Europe.

    Guaira Spiny-rat - these arrived from London Zoo at some point in the 1970s (the collection in question ceased to keep them in 1979) but I don't know anything further.

    Pampas Cat - these were two males, I believe; the species was present from 1979 until 1992.
     
  10. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    It was no question a huge accumulation of species, which perversely was the very reason for its demise. Kilverstone had everything going for it - a pretty manor house set in walled gardens and parkland gently sloping down to the river; titled owners with good connections and with a way with the media and a continuous eye on a publicity story. As the collection grew, pressure to house it increased and accommodation became increasingly ramshackle. The public loved the miniature horses which were eventually used for show-jumping type displays, and the continuous stream of baby animals in prams, some at least of which were genuine orphans - but many of the interesting species were both quite obscure and seemingly difficult to see, and visitor numbers peaked and started to fall. The costs involved in sustaining such a huge accumulation of dirty and destructive South American primates (in particular) in plywood housing, must have been terrifying - I have vivid memories of the Spider and Capuchin Monkey housing in the middle of the walled garden. At the same time Banham Zoo which is just a few miles away started an aggressive advertising campaign. The balance tipped Banham's way very quickly in the end.
    The last time I drove past it, much of the site appeared to now be new housing estates - so even though it is such a sad loss, Kilverstone is one zoo which could not re-open. Indeed it tried to, the year following its closure by Lord and Lady Fisher; but Kilverstone Country Park only lasted one year.
     
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  11. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    As I noted upthread, one irony from my point of view is that Kilverstone would have been the only collection in Norfolk readily-accessible from outside the region by public transport, as Thetford has regular train services from Peterborough, which itself is on the east coast mainline. Something that rather illustrates this point is that, when I looked into attempting to reach Banham Zoo by public transport when staying in Peterborough last year after the IZES meeting at Hamerton and hence was checking train routes and walking distances between various points, I discovered that it would actually take *less* time to walk the 13 miles between Thetford and Banham than it would to use public transport between these two points.

    I digress from the general subject of the thread, of course :p
     
  12. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I also went there once. I believe it was on the approach to the town, on the hill down to the centre, so just outside. Yes, it was a walled garden. But I remember nothing else...
     
  13. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    They got meritorious breeding awards for the Mandrills. I was rather disappointed to later discover they acquired the original pair almost accidently, as they were offered them by a dealer(Ravensden probably...) rather than setting out to keep them. But they did very well with them anyway and for some years had the largest number in the UK.
     
  14. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    One major collection I never visited for various reasons. I've got various postcards from there though, cute marmosets on bananas, falabella horses in the sitting room. I think you could safely say it was an impressive collection but perhaps rather an odd one too....
     
  15. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    That was the way most zoos obtained animals. The phone calls would come in thick and fast at Ravensden, especially pre-season - "we've got an empty cage xx feet by xx feet by xx feet, Easter is in a fortnight, what do you have in stock". Ian and Marjorie Gibb were the managers and there were many stories of course - one which always tickled me was Molly Badham sending back a Jaguarundi, because when they un-boxed it, they found it was brown and boring, and she'd thought it would be pretty like a real Jaguar.....
     
  16. Pootle

    Pootle Well-Known Member

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    I’d certainly from the recently closed collections opt for Southport for purely selfish reasons having spent so many days there as a child and teenager. Away from those animals already mentioned from Southport, does anyone remember a cow (a run of the mill cow!!, possibly Friesian or cross bred) called ‘Mini Moo’?

    However, one old, long closed zoo I was recently reading about that no one will or has mentioned is this one : WALTON'S ZOO - Liverpool Hidden History

    It would be certainly interesting to see a Zoo in the 1830’s for all sorts of reasons.
     
  17. Andrew Swales

    Andrew Swales Well-Known Member

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    Kilverstone (New World) Wildlife Park - sometimes sub-titled the 'Latin American Zoo' closed in 1991, having been opened in 1973 by broadcaster Frank Muir. It was owned and run by Lord (John) and Lady (Rosamund) Fisher. An auction was held in the autumn of 1991. We attended, but arrived late, and I cannot remember the date. Lord and Lady Fisher moved to Sussex. Lord Fisher then had 5 children from a previous marriage. The eldest, Patrick (who eventually succeeded to the title) re-opened the park under the name of Kilverstone Country Park in the spring of 1992. For 1992 the remains of the old enclosures left after the auction were stocked with a mish-mash of animals collected from where-ever could supply them. I remember Celebes Macaques in an old Spider Monkey cage in the corner of the walled garden, and we sent a pair of hybrid Ruffed Lemurs. Lord and Lady Fisher had done a very good job of telling the public Kilverstone was closing at the end of 1991 and visitor numbers in 1992 were tiny; Kilverstone Country Park closed at the end of the year. The few visitors who did go, did not seem to differentiate the place, and this would explain why a Google search finds pictures of Meerkats (for example) in the old walled garden enclosures.
     
    Last edited: 12 Feb 2019
  18. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Interesting; I had never realised that the collection changed name when it briefly re-opened :) presumably the dating disparity in my post above either means the information I've come across in the past was incorrect as regards these two species, or that Patrick Fisher somehow re-acquired them for his short-lived attempt at reviving Kilverstone.... most likely the former.
     
  19. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    I visited the original Kilverstone many times; it was one of my favourite UK zoos.

    I have fond memories of the South American primates especially the tassel-eared marmosets and the black-handed tamarins (which, in those days, were considered a sub-species of red-handed tamarin). I also particularly recall the pampas cat, a melanistic Geoffroy's cat, tayra, grison and naked-tail armadillo.

    It was also nice to see bush dogs with a good sized pool that provided room for them to swim.

    Regretably I never saw Kilverstone's pacarana (so Bristol remains the only UK zoo where I've ever seen this species).

    I did visit the Kilverstone Country Park once which was a very disappointing experience. It was sad to see that the fine collection of neotropical animals had been (largely) replaced with a hotchpotch of common species. It closed shortly after my only visit.
     
  20. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    A species which Kilverstone bred for the first time in Europe, and which has recently returned to European collections after over 25 years with the arrival of a pair at Zoo Schmiding in Austria a year ago.
     
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