Dudley Zoo

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Dudley Zoo
Date opened 1937 (1937)
Location Dudley, West Midlands, England
Coordinates 52°30′50.18″N 2°4′37.68″W / 52.5139389°N 2.0771333°W / 52.5139389; -2.0771333Coordinates: 52°30′50.18″N 2°4′37.68″W / 52.5139389°N 2.0771333°W / 52.5139389; -2.0771333
Land area 40 acres (16 ha)
Number of animals 940 (2006)
Number of species 163 (2006)[1]
Major exhibits Tigers, Chimpanzees, Lemur Wood
Website www.dudleyzoo.org.uk

Dudley Zoological Gardens is a 40-acre (16 ha) zoo located within the grounds of Dudley Castle in the town of Dudley, in the Black Country region of the West Midlands, England. The Dudley Zoological Society was founded in 1935, and the Zoological Gardens opened to the public on 18 May 1937.[2]


One of the modernist structures at Dudley Zoo

The zoo buildings include twelve listed buildings, seven Grade II and five Grade II*, erected in 1937 by Berthold Lubetkin's Tecton Group which employed, among others, structural engineer Ove Arup. Most of the zoo buildings are art deco in style.[3][4][5][6]

Tropical Bird House, Dudley Zoo (c. 1939, by Percy Shakespeare

A painting by Percy Shakespeare, Tropical Bird House, Dudley Zoo (c.1939,), is in Dudley Museum and Art Gallery.[7]

In 2011, the zoo announced refurbishment and renovation plans for the zoo's listed buildings and parts of the zoo itself; totalling £1.15 million. Initial funding for the project has been met by the Heritage Lottery Fund.[8]

In January 2013, newly released construction proposals indicate the entrance to the zoo will connect with the Black Country Museum and the Dudley Canal Trust, creating a single entrance for the three attractions.[9] If the proposals are approved, construction will begin on a new shop in late 2013 and work for the entrance will be completed by spring 2014. Focus will then shift to the bear pits, which zoo officials say will be renovated to provide "a dramatic backdrop in the landscape"[10]


Access to Dudley Castle, a Grade I listed building built in the 11th century, is included in the zoo entrance fee.


A visitor chairlift was erected between the zoo's entrance and the castle in 1958. It was taken out of use in 2000 due to health and safety concerns. In August 2012 the chairlift was reopened after a 12-week, £117,000 restoration which included returning it to its original light cream colour.[11][12]


An orangutan
A tiger

In 2003, in common with other urban zoos, Dudley parted with their two female African elephants so that they could benefit from more spacious surroundings. The remaining large animals include giraffes, tigers, lions, reindeer, wallabies, and 3 snow leopards, the latest being born in May 2013. Primates are well represented, and there are several aviaries and a reptile house. The zoo has over 1,000 animals from over 200 species; most of these are endangered and are the product of captive breeding programmes.

The Dudley Zoo has housed polar bears and was once home to Cuddles, a male orca, or killer whale. He was housed at the zoo from 1971, until his death in February 1974. The dolphin and whale pools were modified seal and sea lions pools with the walls being built up to create more depth. However, these plans fell foul of the local planning laws and the zoo was ordered to return the pools to the original state. As the zoo was not prepared to invest in new purpose built pools the whale 'Cuddles' was put up for sale, but died before being moved, from long-term gastro-intestinal problems. The pools were returned to their original design and now house sea lions.[13]

The zoo is currently expanding its education department with a variety of workshops available for schools.



The Radio 2 presenter Alex Lester worked at Dudley Zoo as an 18 year old student in 1974.


  1. ^ "Dudley Zoo Annual Review 2006". dudleyzoo.org.uk. Dudley Zoo. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "Worldwide plea over Dudley Zoo buildings". bbc.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  3. ^ "Endangered species—Dudley Zoo’s Tectons on WMF Watchlist". riskybuildings.org.uk. The Twentieth Century Society. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  4. ^ "Building of the Month: Dudley Zoo". riskybuildings.org.uk. The Twentieth Century Society. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  5. ^ Flatman, Ben. "Tekton's Dudley Zoo". benflatman.com. Ben Flatman. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Short film on Berthold Lubetkin's buildings at Dudley Zoo "Anna Keay speaks to Ben Flatman about Dudley Zoo and Berthold Lubetkin". youtube.com. YouTube. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  7. ^ "Tropical Bird House, Dudley Zoo". BBC Online. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "All systems go for zoo revamp". .dudleynews.co.uk. Dudley News. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  9. ^ "New-look Dudley Zoo entrance unveiled". Express & Star. January 8, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Dudley Zoo revamp will start next year". Express & Star. August 27, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Zoo's iconic chairlift to re-launch today". .dudleynews.co.uk. Dudley News. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  13. ^ "Dudley Zoo - Dolphins & Whales: 1971 - 1974". marineanimalwelfare.com. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 

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