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Paignton Zoo logo
|Location||Paignton, Devon, England|
|Land area||80 acres (32 ha)|
|Number of animals||>2000|
|Number of species||>250|
|Major exhibits||Monkey Heights, Reptile Tropics|
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, is a zoo in Paignton, Devon, England. The zoo is part of South West Environmental Parks Ltd which is owned by the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT). It is a combined zoo and botanic garden that welcomes over half a million visitors a year. WWCT also runs Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall. All three are registered charities.
Paignton Zoo has a collection of about 2,000 animals representing nearly 300 species. It also cultivates about 1,600 different species of plant. It currently employs over 100 permanent staff and an additional 120 seasonally. A registered educational and scientific charity, Paignton Zoo is committed to the highest standards of animal husbandry and welfare, to scientific research, education and the breeding and conservation of rare and endangered animal and plant species.
Paignton Zoo's collection of animals are categorised by the habitat they live in, and those habitats are represented by themed buildings and areas across the zoo.
The Desert House is a walk-through glasshouse containing authentic desert plants such as cacti of various species. The animals kept in the Desert House include red-billed quelea, gila monsters, superb starlings, pancake tortoises, Guinea pigs and free-flying Princess of Wales parakeets, as well as a real termite mound.
Tropical Forest House
The Tropical Forest House displays reptiles and amphibians from tropical rain-forests. These include Burmese pythons, Cuban crocodiles, saltwater crocodiles, boa constrictors, matamata turtles, dwarf caimans, green anacondas, tokay geckos and several species of poison dart frog.
This area is wooded with naturally occurring plants and trees. Animals on display include Asian lions, Sumatran tigers, red ruffed lemurs, ring-tailed lemurs, Bornean orangutans, great grey owls, wreathed hornbills, golden pheasants, western lowland gorillas, white-faced saki monkeys, Socorro doves, southern cassowary, bongo and lar gibbons.
Several species of waterfowl live around the moats surrounding the zoo's monkey islands, including dalmatian pelicans, Marabou storks and several different species of ducks and geese such as Mandarin ducks, common shelducks and barnacle geese. Other waterfowl in the zoo's collection include Chilean flamingos, scarlet ibis and little egrets.
This area mostly displays animals from the African savannah, but also features some animals from other continents that live in a similar dry grassland habitat. The African animals include ostriches, Hartmann's mountain zebras, cheetahs, red river hogs, Rothschild's giraffes, African elephants, Barbary sheep and black rhinoceros. Animals from other continents include maned wolves, Bactrian camels, mishmi takin and collared peccaries.
Garden themes and plant collections include a broad collection of temperate hardy trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants arranged by habitat type, Collection of naturally occurring taxa of the genus Buddleja, A number of themed garden areas: Mediterranean Climatic Gardens, Medicinal Garden, Economic Garden, Tropical House, Sub-Tropical House, Desert House, Wildlife Garden and the first public vertical hydroponic display house.
Paignton Zoo was one of the earliest combined zoological and botanical gardens in Britain and the first that was opened with education as its mission. It was founded by Herbert Whitley, initially as his private collection. Whitley was an early conservationist and a contemporary of people such as Sir Peter Scott and Jean Delacour, the famous French ornithologist. Paignton Zoo first opened to the public in 1923. After various name changes, it became Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in 1996.
A five-year redevelopment programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, refurbished large parts of the Zoo and was completed in 2001. A new 10-year plan is now in place to redevelop the remaining areas to ensure that all animals are housed in modern enclosures of the highest standard.
Key dates in the zoo's history include:
- 1923 – Paignton Zoo opened to the public
- 1955 – Herbert Whitley died
- 1995 – European Regional Development Fund grant started redevelopment of Zoo
- 1996 – became Paignton Zoo Environmental Park
- 1998 – Zoo Keepers BBC TV documentary series broadcast
- 2004 – Zoo Story ITV TV documentary series broadcast
- 2005 – Monkey Heights, the state-of-the-art monkey exhibit, opened
- 2006 – fire in the Giraffe House killed three giraffes
- 2007 – rare black rhino calf Zuri born – the first such birth seen on the World Wide Web
- 2008 – Crocodile Swamp exhibit opened
- 2009 – Creatures Like Us Animal Planet TV documentary series broadcast
Paignton Zoo is a member of the British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Its gardens are members of PLANTNETWORK, Plant Heritage (formerly NCCPG) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). It works with partner zoos and gardens in these organisations on the management of captive breeding and plant conservation programmes for endangered species.
Education and Research
Paignton Zoo has a large education team which teaches approximately 40,000 students each year from under-5s to post-16s, as well as adult community groups.
Part of the redevelopment programme included the establishment of a Science Department in 1997. Now renamed the Field Conservation and Research Department, this has grown to become one of the leading zoo science departments in Europe, with staff engaged in a programme of projects within the Zoo, at WWCT's other sites in the UK, and at various sites overseas. Projects are carried out at 'A' level, undergraduate and post graduate level.
The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust and its family of charitable attractions – Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Living Coasts and Newquay Zoo – supports or is involved in conservation projects in the UK, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Madagascar, Vietnam and Sulawesi in Indonesia.
- in 2009 the zoo together with a commercial partner (Valcent (EU) Ltd) installed the first of a new generation of innovative plant growing systems to support the growing of food for its animals in an energy efficient, local and nutritionally controlled way; see http://blog.valcent.net/?p=506
- Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust – History retrieved 17 July 2012
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