Blackpool Zoo logo
|Location||Blackpool, Lancashire, England|
|Land area||32 acres (13 ha)|
|Number of animals||1500|
Blackpool Zoo is a 32-acre (13 ha) zoo, owned by Parques Reunidos and located in the sea-side resort of Blackpool, Lancashire, England. It provides a home to over 1,500 animals from all over the world. The zoo has recently changed ownership twice – once in 2003, and again in 2007, resulting in continued investment each year.
Opened in 1972, in recent years the Zoo has been the subject of demonstrations by local animal rights campaigners, who allege that the conditions in which some of the animals are kept do not reflect their natural habitat and therefore are not conducive to the animals' welfare. These groups stage peaceful pickets and distribute leaflets, usually on bank-holiday weekends. The Zoo prepares for these events by producing targeted, anti-protestor literature that is distributed upon their arrival.
2005 saw the opening of the 'Dinosaur Safari', a walkthrough exhibition featuring models of 32 life-size dinosaurs around a trail. The exhibition has had a lukewarm reception as the models of the dinosaurs are deemed by many to be unrealistic and the extra cost of the trail catches many guests unaware. The Dinosaur Safari was included in the normal entrance fee starting in mid-2007. "Amazonia" opened in 2006. This is a walk-through enclosure of South American animals and birds including 5 species of monkeys. Giraffes were re-introduced to the zoo in 2008, after an absence of 14 years, and over £0.5m was invested in the new giraffe house and pens.
In summer 2009, penguins were to be added to the list of animals at the zoo, with the arrival of 20 African penguins from two Spanish conservation centres. A£1m sealion pool was opened in May 2010 along with the addition of a male sealion from Spain. 2011 saw the opening of a new Children's Farm and the expansion and refurbishment of the main restaurant.
Animals and Exhibits
- Elephant and Reptile House
Blackpool Zoo has housed Asian Elephants since the late 1970s, the first two being two young females named Kate and Crumple, who arrived from Sri Lanka. Initially, the elephants shared their enclosure with giraffes and rhinoceros, but these two species were removed to make room for two more elephants, Marcella and Indra, who were rescued from a bankrupt European circus. Kate, Marcella and Indra, now all middle-aged, still live at the zoo. The indoor area of the Elephant House contains a large collection of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish, including Yacare Caimans, Poison Dart Frogs, Green Anacondas, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes, Red-bellied piranhas and various others.
- Gorilla Mountain
Opened in 2000, Gorilla Mountain is home to five Western Lowland Gorillas, a silverback male named Bukavu, and four females named Miliki, Kena, Njema and Meisie. Meisie is the daughter of Bukavu and Miliki, and was born in 2010.
- Lemur Wood
- Active Oceans
The Zoo's sea lion and penguin enclosures. The Sea Lion Pool, which houses Californian Sea Lions, was first built in the 1970s, and is the largest sea lion pool in a British zoo. The pool also has a 250-seat arena that allows visitors to watch the sea lions interact with their trainers, who use positive reinforcement training. The Penguin enclosure, which is next to the Sea Lion Pool, opened in 2009 and houses a flock of Magellanic Penguins. Blackpool Zoo is the only zoo in the UK to keep this species.
- Giraffe Heights
Opened in 2008, Giraffe Heights is home to four female Giraffes, named Ciara, Quiver, Sonia & O'grady. The youngest female is O'Grady and she is daughter of Sonia. A group of three Blesbok antelopes shares the grass paddock with the giraffes in the summer months. The paddock includes a walkway where visitors can book encounters to hand-feed the giraffes.
- Pride of Blackpool
A large, walk-through enclosure opened in 2006, that houses several South American animals, including Squirrel Monkeys, White-faced Saki Monkeys, Goeldi's Marmosets and various species of ducks and other birds including the Black Curassow.
- Wallaby Walkabout
- Children's Farm
Opened in May 2011, this area is aimed primarily at children, and offers hands-on experiences with several domesticated animals, including donkeys, pigs, rabbits, Llamas, chickens, ferrets, Pygmy goats, Ouessant Sheep, reindeer, cows and geese.
- Wolf Ridge
Opened in 2012/2013, this new enclosure is a natural habitat for Iberian Wolves initially housing a pack of 3 wolves.
- Other Animals
Other species in the Zoo's collection include Penguins, Red Pandas, Meerkats, Bactrian Camels, Oriental small-clawed otters, South American Tapirs, Aardvarks, Mountain zebras, Bongo, Red River Hogs, Cottontop Tamarins, Spider monkeys, Bornean Orangutans, Great Grey Owls, Barn Owls, Von der Decken's Hornbill, Rainbow Lorikeets, Ostriches, American Flamingos, Common Peafowl, Emu, Eastern White Pelicans, Aldabran tortoises, Egyptian Tortoises, Nile Monitor Lizards, Royal Pythons, Tiger Salamanders, White's Tree Frogs, African Land Snails[disambiguation needed], Hissing Cockroaches and many more.
- Dinosaur Safari
A walk-through area with over thirty life-size, fibre-glass statues of extinct animals on display. These include Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Tanystropheus, Dimetrodon, Spinosaurus, Smilodon and the Woolly Mammoth, among several others.
In 1972, at the time of opening the zoo, the zoo authorities entered into an arrangement with the British railway engineering firm Severn Lamb for the supply of a miniature railway installation. The Blackpool Zoo Miniature Railway has operated continuously since that time. The railway is constructed to the so-called minimum gauge, with tracks of 15 in (381 mm) gauge. This represents a size more commonly used for more extensive light railway systems, rather than so-called 'miniature' railways, although in the case of the Blackpool Zoo line the entire extent of the railway is only a little over 700 yards. Severn Lamb originally supplied two locomotives (diesel powered, but with steam-outline bodywork) designed to be of American external appearance, and four 'toastrack' type passenger carriages. However, half of this rolling stock has since been disposed of, leaving just two carriages and one locomotive operating the public service. The railway is open on zoo opening days, and an additional charge (on top of zoo admission) is payable by passengers.
- "Blackpool Zoo – History". Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Giraffes return to Blackpool Zoo". Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Zoo sees return of the penguins". BBC News. 27 April 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Mayor opens sealion pool". Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Blackpool Zoo's sealions enjoy new home". BBC News. 27 May 2010. Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- "Investment for 2011 at Blackpool Zoo". Retrieved 29 December 2011.
- See details of locomotives and a photograph, here.