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Your Childhood Memories at Zoos

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Pootle, 21 Mar 2012.

  1. Pootle

    Pootle Well-Known Member

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    After reading snowleopards experience regarding getting his children in, around and out of the zoo and all the extra events that happen when taking young children to a zoo, it made me think of my experiences with children at a zoo, then I thought of my memories of zoos as a child, which made me smile to myself, some are funny and some are pretty unique, so here are my fond memories of zoo visists as a child. It would be interesting to hear others too.

    1. A lioness jumping the bonnet of the car at Knowsley, this would have been circa 1980 give or take a year. I remember it stood there looking through the windscreen at us. In the 100's of times I have driven around myself as an adult this has never happened.

    2. Again 1980 give or take a couple at London Zoo I have a clear memory of seeing the Giant Pandas walking and eating (Ching Ching and Cha Cha at that time I believe), that is the only time I have ever seen Giant Pandas to this day.

    3. Finally Bristol Zoo, this was 1981 or just later, I was 8 at the time and my younger brother went missing, we searched for him and shouted his name but no luck, my Dad then went to the entrance/exit and gave his description and asked them not to let anyone out and alerted staff a the zoo to our predicament. I remember staff looking and asking other people, it was getting serious. Next minute he comes running towards us laughing, he had been hiding in a tree watching us search up and down for him......that is seriously bad behaviour!!
     
  2. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    A very long time ago now....:( but still clear nonetheless.

    Whipsnade- The Indian rhino pair Mohan and Mohini galloping and chasing in their paddock- must have been courtship. Also their big square mouths and the squelchy noise they made when they ate, standing near the fence begging for food. The male Mohan rubbing his horn side to side on the metal rails. The original Lion, Tiger and Bear enclosures on the cold and exposed 'downs' side of the Zoo. Feeding the elephants in their house and giving pennies to one on the Lawn which she would then pass to the keeper. A baby handraised/wildcaught Polar bear cub 'Spitfire' in a small concrete enclosure in the old Children's Zoo(more recently the bird garden area). The Hunting Dogs leaping higher and higher up the netting of their enclosure until I was frightened they would escape (they didn't).

    London. Trying to see the Gorilla 'Guy' in his outdoor cage which was shielded by a dirty reflective glass or perspex screen in those days. I remember him vomiting. Invisible Orangutans under piles of straw and the sound of sparrows chirping inside the animal houses. The smell in the old Hippo House. The Elephants lining the moat of their old enclosure on the North Bank with the big concrete sunshade. Lions roaring and feeding time in the Lion House and the Bears on the Mappin Terraces.

    Bristol. Leaning over the wall to see the Black Rhinos in their enclosure. Strangely I don't remember any of their Apes etc until I was rather older.

    Many other memories from later years of course but those are the earliest ones.
     
    Last edited: 21 Mar 2012
  3. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

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    The only zoo I visited when I was very young was Chester. I think I went there first in 1959 with my uncle and cousin, in those pre-motorway days, it was nearly an hour's drive from my home at the other end of the Wirral. I wrote quite recently about the young African elephants in their small enclosure near the bridge over the canal, behind the camels (now the okapis).
    I remember the chimps in their old house, which is still there behind the island - although at that time I think there were three islands with orangs on the first. At the other end of the chimp house, there was the nocturnal house with the windows painted dark blue. I think there were bushbabies there, but the only animal I really remember is the bird-eating spider. This area is now indoor quarters for the hyacinthine macaws. The rest of the Tropical House was just a gleam in Mr Mottershead's eye :)
    I can just remember the old monkey house, between the lions and tigers, where the monorail stop is now. I think it was a square building with perhaps a dozen sections, each one having an indoor and outdoor cage for one or two monkeys. The centre of the building was glassed off as the chimp nursery as by that time the adult females Babu and Meg were both producing a baby each year, but they would not or could not rear them. The only other animal I can remember from that first visit is a chacma baboon in one of the corner enclosures that grunted at me.
    My other memory is that I spent a long time looking at the map that evening (preparing myself for ZooChat even then) and I got very disappointed when I saw the Buffet on the map. I remember saying to my mother that I had seen the buffalo (American bison, kept beside the giraffes on what is now part of their paddock), but we hadn't seen the buffet :(

    Alan
     
  4. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    My parents first took me to London Zoo when I was only a few weeks old and I have been a regular visitor all my life.

    Seeing (and smelling) the hippos in the old Hippopotamus House is not only my earliest zoo memory but probably the earliest of all my childhood memories.

    Like Pertinax, I also vividly remember the concrete sunshade in the old elephant paddock, the famous gorilla ‘Guy’, the excitement in the old Lion House at feeding time and the noise of the big cats roaring......

    There are of course lots of other childhood memories from London Zoo:- the sea-lions barking, the Baikal seals, the mountain gorilla ‘Reuben’, the giant panda ‘Chi Chi’, the black rhinoceros ‘Lorna’, the northern white rhinoceros ‘Ben’, a monkey-eating eagle in the old Birds-of-Prey Aviaries........
     
  5. hadrada

    hadrada Well-Known Member

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    Newquay Zoo,i was about 7 or 8,so late 70's,not a great experience,chimps in small cages where the current nocturnal house is now,the bear pit,the lion enclosure,even at that age i knew this was not how you should keep animals.
    Thankfully Newquay is a great little zoo now. :)

    Jersey Zoo opened my eyes in so many ways,as a 10yr old visiting the island for the first time,seeing animals i'd never seen and my love of gorillas stemmed from that,which continues to this day.
    Fast forward 20yrs and on my last visit there and volunteering to pick weeds around the zoo, got me working at Shaldon and then eventually Paignton. :)
     
  6. Stefka

    Stefka Well-Known Member

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    What a great idea for a thread!

    1) The first zoo I remember is Prague, my father was taking me there regularly when I was little (pre-school age). For some reason, I only remember Bears - they were in the pit where they keep Red Pandas now, the first exhibit you see after entering the zoo. And then Polar Bears, which are still in the same exhibit now. I remember liking the zoo, but it´s all blurry now.

    2) When got older, (around 10?), I went on a school trip to Pilsen Zoo. And that I remember vividly - I left crying and swore that I will never ever step in a zoo again! :D Pilsen Zoo, now celebrated worldwide, was really horrible back then, the Brown Bear cages were sooo tiny and some enclosures looked like from a horror movie. I remember that it was a really hot day and they had pony-rides - ponies were walking in a small circle, obviously exhausted from the heat and my stupid classmates payed to ride on them. I was sooo angry and disappointed! It took years before I was able to start enjoying zoos again.

    And look at me now, can´t get enough of them! ;)
     
  7. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    I think when you are very young, the brain only stores so many images, and not more, maybe just the ones that make the biggest impression. Which is why we have these selective memories, still vivid but not all embracing of the animals we would have seen at the same time.

    As I said above, on my very first trip to Bristol Zoo I remember the Black Rhinos but virtually nothing else from that visit...:confused:
     
  8. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Yes, it is strange how the memory works.

    I must have seen Indian wild ass (khur) at London Zoo as a very small child yet, frustratingly, I have no recollection of this whatsoever despite the fact that wild asses are particular favourites of mine. Sadly I have never seen this form since. (Incidentally, Colin Groves considers that these are a distinct species.)

    Another very vivid childhood memory is seeing a giant anteater for the first time; surprisingly that was not in London Zoo but at Chessington Zoo in the end cage of the old Ape House. (I am not referring to the horrible structure that resembled a smaller version of Dudley Zoo’s ape accommodation but a much earlier building with barred cages.)
     
  9. Parrotsandrew

    Parrotsandrew Well-Known Member

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    I have probably mentioned many of my earliest zoo memories when I have been reminiscing about Flamingo Park:-

    Seeing two largish Asiatic Elephants in the Coach House.

    My father coming back from the small Elephant House saying "there are two Elephants", and rushing there to find a tiny calf under a heat lamp in a wooden stall.

    Looking down on what I knew was a "Whale" in the old Dolphin House. It was motionless on the bottom of the pool. I now realise it was a Beluga, presumably Titch.

    Seeing Winnie the Pilot Whale just once (1966). She was careering round and round her tiny pool. Then as we left the car park following our next visit, my father saying mournfully "no baby Whale".

    The Southern Elephant Seals, the Humming Bird House, the hybrid Bear Cubs, Lions on what was eventually the Bird Walk. I could go on about the early to mid 1960s!

    The other zoo I knew best was Sewerby, but we also visited Regent's Park every year so I remember seeing Toto the African Elephant in the old accommodation when she was fairly young, and later feeding the Elephants fruit pastilles when they were on the island of the new house. I too remember Guy in his old cage and of course Chi Chi. I loathed the Somali Black-headed Sheep in the Children's Zoo following an unfortunate incident with one in 1965!

    I remember the Elephants and Black Rhinoceroses from my first visit to Bristol in 1966, followed by visits to Paignton (an Elephant's rear end, Peafowl, and the Lions) and the old children's zoo in Newquay on the same holiday. At the latter I can still hear my mother saying "let's go and see the rest of the zoo", and someone replying "this is all there is".

    Zoo-related memories are of watching "Zoo Time", "Animal Magic" and "Great Zoos of the World", and of the very first thing I did on starting school in 1966 which was to draw a picture of Flamingo Park.

    Ah, happy days. I wish I had a time machine.
     
  10. Pootle

    Pootle Well-Known Member

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    "Animal Magic" - It was just that!! :)

    Without a doubt the best thing on TV when I was a child, Johnny Morris and Terry Nutkins (in my era of Animal Magic). I seem to remember lots of the filiming was carried out at Bristol Zoo...?
     
  11. Parrotsandrew

    Parrotsandrew Well-Known Member

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    It was Bristol Zoo in black and white in my early years - washing Wendy and Christina etc.
     
  12. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Yes, I also have very fond memories of these three television programmes. “Zoo Time” (with Desmond Morris) was always my favourite television programme as a young child.

    Nobody else has mentioned James Fisher’s “News from the Zoos”; that was essential viewing too.

    I wish that some of these programmes, especially Anthony Smith’s “Great Zoos of the World”, were available on DVD.
     
  13. Fisi

    Fisi Member

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    Chester zoo, I wanted to see a Bison badly for some reason..

    I'd like to think I saw one but I can't remember to be totally honest.

    By far the most memorable moments I have spent in zoos were far more recent; watching Willie the Sumatran Orang at Columbus zoo in the months before he passed away last year, never has another animal had anything close to the amount of charisma that chap had.
     
  14. joobee

    joobee Member

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    i remember going to Chester zoo with my Dad and brother on a trip with the British legion when i was about 4. I remember the singing that song..."Daddy's taking us to the Zoo tomorrow" on the coach! At such a young age i can recall looking down at the bears in the pits and feeling very sad for them just looking up at us. I remember the wiff in the elephant house and my Dad saying..(as he did on every other trip to the zoo we ever made) " hop under the barrier kid and fill us a bag of that sh*te...it'll be good for my tomatoes!!" We went for a ride on the train to the out enclosures...i was really excited to see zebras and we did the boat trip too and i just sat there hoping it wouldnt sink! II can also remember seeing the ourans...wearing sacks over their heads!!! They always used to do that at Chester!! Happy days.
     
    Last edited: 2 Apr 2012
  15. Loricua22

    Loricua22 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to resurrect this old thread... but I have one.
    When I was about 3 years old, when we would go to the Cleveland zoo in Ohio, USA, I remember it was around the time I learned to count, and I always associated the number "3" with elephants after I always saw the 3 elephants. Happy memories of that zoo... but thank goodness they built Elephant Crossing. It is a lot bigger and better than the old elephant exhibit was.