Colchester Zoo

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Colchester Zoo
Colchester Zoo logo.png
Colchester Zoo logo
Date opened 1963
Location Colchester, Essex, England
Coordinates 51°51′45″N 0°49′58″E / 51.86250°N 0.83278°E / 51.86250; 0.83278
Land area 60 acres (0.243 km²)
No. of animals 5666 (2007)
No. of species over 270 (2015)
Major exhibits Edge of Africa, Wilds of Asia, Dragons of Komodo, Lost Madagascar, Orangutan Forest and Playa Patagonia.
Website www.colchester-zoo.co.uk

Colchester Zoo is a zoological garden situated in Colchester, England. The zoo opened in 1963 and celebrated its 50th anniversary on 2 June 2013. It is home to many rare and endangered species, including big cats, primates and birds as well as a large number of invertebrates and fish species.

Colchester Zoo has always cared passionately about the world's threatened species, and created its charity Action for the Wild to assist conservation projects worldwide. This includes its own project, the UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.

Since receiving charity status in 2004 Action for the Wild has donated over £1.2million to conservation programmes, as well as supporting conservation research.

Animal exhibits[edit]

The animals habitats at Colchester Zoo are presented in a number of different themed zones.

Butterfly Glade

Opened in Spring 2015, Butterfly Glade is a walk through exhibit which is housed near Bears of the Rising Sun. It is home to many different species of butterflies, plants and flowers. It was opened in memory of Isobel Rose Parmenter who died in October 2014 from Langerhans cell histiocytosis.

Australian Rainbows

Opened in summer 2014, Australian Rainbows is an exhibit that previously housed the Wild about Animals theatre. Inside the building is a waterfall, a large pond and colourful gardens. Visitors are able to journey through an aviary of lorikeets, with the opportunity to feed a treat of nectar to these colourful birds.

Koi Niwa

Within this exhibit there are two large pools housing a variety of koi carp. There are also two filtration systems visible to visitors. The exhibit is set in the style of a typical Japanese garden with statues, ornaments and waterfalls.

Walking Giants

Walking Giants opened in the summer of 2012 and is split into two sections. The complex houses three out of four of the world’s biggest tortoise species including Aldabra giant tortoise, Burmese mountain tortoise, and African spurred tortoise.

Lost Madagascar

Opened in Easter 2012, Lost Madagascar is a walk-through enclosure that is home to troops of ring-tailed lemurs and red-bellied lemurs. The exhibit can only be accessed by taking a ride on the zoo's road train, known as the Lost Madagascar Express.

Otter Creek

Otter Creek was opened in August 2011 and houses a family of smooth-coated otters who are part of breeding programme around Europe, to help ensure there is a healthy population in captivity. 

Wilds of Asia

Wilds of Asia is a group of enclosures housing various different species from across Asia. Among the species on display in Wilds of Asia are pileated gibbons, red pandas, rhinoceros hornbill, binturongs, Burmese pythons and lion-tailed macaques.

Kingdom of the Wild

Kingdom of the Wild multi-species complex, which houses several different African species including reticulated giraffes, southern white rhinoceros, ostriches, zebras and greater kudu, while the indoor area features aardvarks, pygmy hippopotamus, patas monkeys and various species of African reptiles, invertebrates and fish, which include leopard tortoises. There is also an aviary, 'Vulture Valley' which is home to white-backed vultures and Ruppell's griffin vultures.

Elephant Kingdom

Elephant Kingdom is home to Colchester Zoo's herd of African elephants. It has a unique design which allows all the elephants maximum sight, sound and physical contact and has specially designed night stalls, a roped off "safe area" and spacious indoor bull elephant quarters.

Edge of Africa

Edge of Africa can be found within the far end of the zoo park, and houses cheetah, spotted hyena, mandrills, red river hogs, warthogs and other African species in large outdoor areas.

Playa Patagonia

Opened in August 2003, Playa Patagonia is home to an all-female group of five Patagonian sea lions named Atlanta, Milan, Winnipeg, Paris and Sydney. The enclosure also features the largest straight underwater tunnel in Europe, holding 500,000 gallons of water and with glass that is 10 millimetres thick.

Orangutan Forest

Orangutan Forest is home to two male orangutans. The younger of the two, named Tiga, is a pure-bred Bornean orang-utan, while the older one, named Rajang, is a hybrid of a Bornean and Sumatran orang-utan.

Dragons of Komodo

Colchester Zoo is one of the few zoos in the UK approved to keep Komodo dragons and currently houses a number of komodo dragons and previously had breeding success within the EEP breeding programme for this species.The enclosure is designed to mimic conditions in the wild, and includes a large pool with showers, as well as a glass roof that can be drawn back to allow in sunlight.

Tiger Taiga

Tiger Taiga is large complex area home to Amur tigers. With multiple areas, pools and a high viewing platform for the tigers as well as a viewing tunnel that runs through the enclosure leads viewers into the Nature Area.

Lion Rock

Opened in April 2004, Lion Rock houses three African lions, a male named Bailey and two females named Malika and Naja. The indoor area of Lion Rock features enclosures housing fennec foxes and Asia Minor spiny mice.

Bears of the Rising Sun

This enclosure is home to a pair of sun bears, a male named Jo-Jo and a female named Srey-Ya. Both bears were given to the zoo by the Rare Species Conservation Centre in 2010, after being confiscated by government anti-poaching patrols in Cambodia.

Leopards at Ussuri Falls

Opened in February 2010, this enclosure houses a pair of Amur Leopards, a male named Sayan and a female named Milena.

Penguin Shores

Penguin Shores is home to a large colony of Humboldt penguins, as well as an aquarium containing various types of freshwater and coral reef fish.

Suricata Sands

Opened in May 2009, Suricata Sands houses a mob of thirteen meerkats, including a breeding pair named Robin and Pippa.

Worlds Apart

Opened in May 2008, Worlds Apart consists of six enclosures, which include an open enclosure home to rhinoceros iguanas, poison dart frogs, green and yellow anacondas and a walk-through small primate exhibit that houses emperor and cottontop tamarins.

Worlds Apart Walkthrough

The outdoor section of Worlds Apart. Among the animals on display are two-toed sloths, golden lion tamarins, silvery marmosets and southern tamandua.

Chimp World

Revamped in 2013, a new larger Chimp World houses a group of eight common chimpanzees, three males and five females. The dominant male of the troop is named Pippin.

Wallaby Walkabout

An Australia-themed walk-through enclosure that houses a group of Bennet's wallabies.

The Lakes

The Lakes holds a small collection of waterbirds such as Chilean flamingo and formerly Dalmatian pelican along with a large number of red-eared terrapins that live freely in the lakes.

Medellin Monkeys

The Medellin Monkeys enclosure is home to one of the main groups of Colombian black spider monkeys.

Heart of the Amazon

This complex is home to a large troop of common squirrel monkeys, but also features silver dollar, angelfish, green iguana, and a pair of red-backed bearded saki. The enclosures just outside Heart of the Amazon were previously home to both black and brown bears but currently house one of the zoo's Geoffroy's cats and the troop of yellow-breasted capuchins.

Iguana Forest and South American Walkthrough

The former walkthrough near the old orangutan exhibit houses a group of golden lion tamarins, as well as emperor tamarins and white-headed marmosets. The adjoining Iguana Forest holds several green iguanas confiscated from airport customs, yellow-footed tortoise and North American box turtle. This walkthrough also previously housed the zoo's lesser Malayan chevrotain.

Familiar Friends (Outdoor area)

The outdoor inclosures are home to a family of pigs and a group of goats.

Inca Trail

This group of enclosures houses the zoos' second large group of Colombian black spider monkeys and a second group of Humboldt penguins along with an aviary home to scarlet ibises.

Call of the Wild

This exhibit is near the Wilds of Asia complex and as of December 2013 features three timber wolves. They can be viewed from the Lost Madagascar Express train, and also from the glass viewing areas.

Other species

Other species found in the zoo include giant anteater, collared mangabey, African wild dog and black-backed jackal.

Woolly Mammoth interactive display

In July 2016 the zoo opened a new Augmented Reality display that gives its visitors the chance to walk with digitally-recreated mammoths. The attraction is located inside the elephant house and is believed to be the first of its kind in a UK zoo.

History[edit]

Originally known as Stanway Hall Park Zoo, the zoo was opened on the 2nd June 1963 by Frank and Helena Farrar and celebrated its 50th birthday in 2013.

The zoo was very successful during the 1960's with thousands of visitors flocking to see its iconic animals, and during the 1970's the zoo saw the arrival of a lion called Simba, who still holds the record for being the largest captive lion in the world. The zoo also bred three zeedonks, which caused worldwide interest.

The government passed the Zoo Licensing Act in 1981, which meant that all zoos needed to be licensed and inspected. Frank Farrar knew that his zoo was in need of major improvements in order to gain a license and so Colchester Zoo was put up for sale.

Dr Dominique Tropeano took over the zoo in March 1983 and invested in enclosure improvements, bringing the zoo back up to the standard required to gain its licence. More animals were brought into the collection, including two of our resident elephants, Tanya and Zola.

A major development for Colchester Zoo came during the 1990's with the purchase of an additional 20 acres of land to expand. This purchase enabled the build of Elephant Kingdom, Kingdom of the Wild and Edge of Africa. 

The zoo faced its most critical time during the Foot and Mouth Crisis in 2001 when it was forced to close its gates to the public. Luckily, the zoo was able to reopen just in time for Easter and the local community supported the zoo by sending in donations.

Colchester Zoo is well known for its ground breaking enclosures. The zoo has won many awards for its enclosure development, animal welfare and conservation. One example of this is award-winning enclosure Playa Patagonia, the sealion exhibit developed in 2004, which was awarded a commendation for the best new enclosure by the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland.

Pioneering technology has also been used in breeding management, which led to the birth of an African elephant calf in 2002. Kito was the first elephant to be born via artificial insemination in Britain and the first in the world to be conceived on the very first attempt at this process. 

Conservation efforts[edit]

Colchester Zoo has always cared passionately about the world's threatened species, and created its charity Action for the Wild to assist projects worldwide. It provides both financial and technical assistance, and aims to raise awareness among local people in community conservation programmes, as well as supporting conservation research around the world.

Since 2005, Action for the Wild has been working to set up the 6,000 hectare UmPhafa Private Nature Reserve in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Working to rehabilitate the land which was previously managed as separate cattle farms, to return it to a healthy state and to release native animal species back onto the reserve. Many species have been released; these species include zebra, nyala, giraffe, red hartebeest, blesbok, waterbuck, common reedbuck, blue wildebeest and ostrich.

Notable former exhibits[edit]

White Tiger Valley

This exhibit used to house Sasha, the zoo's well-known and loved white tiger. Sasha died on 15 December 2010 aged 15. The exhibit underwent extensive work, and re-opened as Lost Madagascar at Easter 2012.

Hornbill Hill

Hornbill Hill was a steep and narrow pathway that featured enclosures for Waldrapp ibis, southern ground hornbill, black hornbill, red-billed blue magpie and at the top of the hill there is an enclosure that has previously held snow leopard, fossa, giant anteater and various New World monkeys and an African aviary that normally holds purple gallinule, hamerkop, Von der Decken's hornbill and curlew. There is also a small hidden enclosure for Geoffroy's cat. The Hornbill Hill aviaries, Geoffroy's cat enclosure and part of the Medellin Monkeys exhibit have all been demolished to make way for the new sun bear enclosure.

Future plans[edit]

The zoo is currently devising plans to build a brand new tropical walk-through exhibit which will bring over seven new species to Colchester Zoo, including a brand new species of crocodile. The exhibit will be spread over two floors and will incorporate an underwater viewing tunnel in which visitors will be able to see crocodiles swim and feed above their heads, before coming out to see them basking around their outdoor pool on their heated rocks through three large glass windows. Chimp World will be redeveloped and will see an extension of the outdoor enclosure by double and a sustainable heating system will be put into the enclosure and high quality facilities for the chimps. The redevelopment will also see an improvement in their off show sleeping quarters, installation of a new roof and new toilet facilities for the visitors. This redevelopment is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Cultural references[edit]

In Television The third series of the Channel 5 show Zoo Days came from Colchester Zoo. This series was presented by former Blue Peter star Konnie Huq, and began transmission on 9 June[when?] and ran for 4 weeks.[1]

Images[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Zoo Days at Colchester Zoo". Colchester-zoo.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 

Sources[edit]

Kershaw, S.C., The Story of Colchester Zoo, Stroud: The History Press, 2013 ISBN 978-0-7524-9346-6

External links[edit]