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Glasgow Zoo
Date opened 1947[1]
Date closed August 25, 2003[2]
Location Uddingston, Scotland
Coordinates 55°50′20″N 4°06′29″W / 55.839°N 4.108°W / 55.839; -4.108Coordinates: 55°50′20″N 4°06′29″W / 55.839°N 4.108°W / 55.839; -4.108
Land area 99 acres (40 ha)[1]
Annual visitors 140,000[1]
Major exhibits Lions, Black Bears, While Rhinos, Capuchin Monkeys

Glasgow Zoo, or Calderpark Zoo, was a 99-acre (40 ha) zoological park in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. It was just outside the city of Glasgow.

It was established by the Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland in 1947, which was itself established in 1936.[3] The zoo was located on the lands of the former Calderpark Estate, and during its peak attracted around about 140,000 visitors a year

The zoo closed in August 2003 after running up a debt of around £3.5m. In the last few years that it was open, Glasgow Zoo deteriorated mainly due to the lack of funding.[2]



The Zoological Society of Glasgow was founded on December 15, 1936 by Edward Hindle who was a Professor of Zoology at Glasgow University. Its name was later changed to the Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland.[4] The society purchased Calderpark Estate in 1939. The property had formerly been farmed by Cistercians, and the original mansion had been demolished a decade earlier when it became unsafe due to subsidence from underground coal mines.[5] The onset of World War II led to the opening of the zoo being delayed till July 9, 1947.[4] However the estate had remained empty for two decades prior to the establishment of the zoo.[6]

Last Years[edit]

Starting in 1999 the zoo tried to sell off its excess to land, but delays in planning permission prevented the sale.[7] In 2000 it started to hire out some of its animals to help raise much needed cash, but drew criticism from animal welfare campaigners.[8]

In 2002, thieves that stole two of the zoo's non-poisonous snakes and vandalised a van and the zoo's tea room.[9] Another break-in a few months later resulted in a parrot being stolen from the zoo.[10]


Glasgow Zoo closed on 25 August 2003[2][11] despite being set to close in late[12] September.[13] The zoo closed because of debts of £3.5m which it accumulated after it’s public funding stopped in 2000.[2] Animal welfare organizations had concerns about conditions and public safety.[2] During the time before closure, staff from the zoo in tandem with SSPCA workers helped relocate animals to other zoos or enclosures. Even though the zoological society stated interest in re-opening the attraction or he creation of a similar attraction on the site as of November 2012 no plans have been put forward to suggest renovation on the creation of another attraction, instead the old site remains debilitated and unused.

Since the closure of the zoo in 2003, the area and old buildings are fallen into disrepair with many of the enclosures being burned, demolished or vandalized as well as illegal dumping from nearby developers and constructors causing further damage to the structures to the point where many are now unsafe for use. The area itself is no longer being locked due to extensive damage to the gate and gatehouse(burned to the ground) as well as the rear gate being burst open. However as of January 2005, a number of animals were still confirmed to be on-site including llamas, ostriches and ponies.

Animals and Exhibits[edit]

African Lions were one of the most popular mammals on display.

The zoo specialized in four types of animals: mammals, birds, reptiles, and farm land animals. Some of the zoo’s most popular mammals were African lions, Asiatic black bears, White Rhinoceros and White-throated Capuchin monkeys. Birds on display at the zoo included: golden eagle, lorikeets, scarlet macaws, indian peacocks. Reptiles at the zoo included: major skinks, bearded lizards, a selection of snakes (boa constrictor, pupuan python, Madagascan Tree Boa etc) and a tortoises including elongated, hermanns, african spurred, and Aldabran giant. Glasgow Zoo also housed a large farmland display. Some of these animals include sheep, goats, geese, doves, large black pigs, ponies, and guinea pigs.


During the zoos final years before closure, it developed a crippling amount of debt. The publication of this debt in the media, along with the apparent rundown appearance of the zoo, resulted in animal rights groups looking into the welfare of the zoos animals. A report written by Jordi Casamitjana, for Advocates for Animals, made multiple claims of animal cruelty. One story that shocked many was that unwanted pets were killed and fed to the zoo's snakes and also that the parents of the parks lion cubs were actually brother and sister.[14] The report also goes into great detail about the financial status of the zoo and how substantial the losses were each year.

With such great debt it was innevitable that the zoo would fall into disrepair and the welfare of its animals would also fall dramatically. Les Ward, the director of Advocates for Animals, reportedly said in The Herald that the zoo was the worst he had encountered and said the group's report urged the licensing committee to close the zoo to the public with immediate effect.[15] Samantha Scott, an animal behaviourist at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, also commented in the report about the mental state of Glasgow zoo's animals: "The White rhino showing signs of possible stereotypic behavior (circling), which is normally associated with difficulties in coping with captive life, or frustrated territorial patrolling."[14] Spokeswoman Alicia McGrewer stated "It is the humans who have not liked the aesthetics of Glasgow Zoo but animal welfare has never been compromised." in defense of the allegations against the zoo.

Glasgow zoo was also well known as a zoological garden due to the large number of plant life situated around the zoo's enclosures and the zoo itself had its very own wildlife garden with a wide range on natural habitats including scrub woodland containing birch and ash tress, a large selection of hedge life including hawthorn and hazel and even its very own section of traditional Scottish moorland. The wildlife garden and surrounding areas were often used for teaching as the wide variety of plants allowed for many areas of plant life to be studied.

Site development after closure[edit]

The housing project now placed on the Glasgow Zoo site.

By late 2004, one of the car parks built to facilitate Glasgow zoo had been developed into a set of luxury flats, the second car park being fenced off to reduce vandalism.

In March 2012, Miller Homes building company submitted an application detailing plans for the construction of 78 houses on the Glasgow zoo site to Glasgow city council. After receiving only one objection, these plans were approved subject to negotiations. The plans include the development of residential areas, infrastructure works including a park and ride facility for the new development and landscaping of the nearby areas.[1][16]


  1. ^ a b c d MacMillan, Amanda (6 March 2012). "Homes to be built at former Glasgow Zoo site". STY Glasgow. Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Cash crisis closes zoo". BBC. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Glasgow Zoopark". The Gazetteer for Scotland. Edinburgh University, Royal Scottish Geographical Society. Retrieved 17 April 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Glasgow Zoopark". Glasgow Zoo. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Glasgow Zoo". Retrieved 10 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Glasgow Zoopark". Glasgow Zoo. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Glasgow Zoopark". Glasgow Zoo. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Zoo animals for hire". BBC. 26 February 2000. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Snakes stolen from zoo". BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Sad end for 'lovesick' parrot". BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Bears still homeless as Glasgow Zoo closes". Telegraph. 26 Aug 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "Glasgow Zoo closure date set". BBC. 17 June 2003. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Glasgow Zoo: nothing left but memories". Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^
  16. ^

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