Mike Thomas who ran the zoo from 1993-2003 wrote this Christmas Editorial on Page 1 and 2, about what we could achieve to rebuild and improve the zoo when “Our visitors became friends …”
As the original newsletters were produced in black and white, I have added some linked colour pictures of the subjects covered or the same zoo areas now in 2018.
As Mike Thomas pointed out, “As you know we are called Animal World , but I tend to favour [the word] zoo – after all that’s what it is!” By my first Paw Prints issue as editor, issue 3 in Summer 1996, the name had changed back to Newquay Zoo.
Chunky our last elderly Himalayan Black Bear was euthanased a year before due to ill health at Christmas 1994, leading to the original 1969 Bear Pit being redeveloped for new rare Sulawesi Macaque monkeys (“Black Apes”) throughout 1995 – see articles on page 8 and 9.
Keeper Mark Tomaszewski (“Cheski”) still works part time at the zoo, having joined the Council Run zoo in 1982/3, our longest continuous serving member of staff.
The Newquay Zoo Wildlife Rescue Hospital (closed c. 2003) was in full winter operation with rescued hedgehogs surfacing too early from or failing to fatten up for Hibernation. Claire Roper wrote about or contributed to three pieces on Hedgehogs on pages 3, 4 and 10.
1990 was International Year of the Rainforest, so rainforest conservation was (and remains) an important and popular topic for school visits. My predecessor Jane Angwin organised a school workshop visit to Newquay Zoo over three days in 1995 by the Green Light Trust. The Green Light Trust is still going strong, working on many UK forest and overseas conservation and education projects. http://www.greenlighttrust.org/about-us
Overheard in the shop at the end of the day in 1995 as Penguin Feeding time was announced:
“Doris, do you want to see the penguins being fed?”
“No Ethel, it’s only fish!”
Courtney Eustice was a truly dreckly Cornish zoo character, sadly missed, who is worthy of a whole blog post of his own sometime soon. No hurry, my lovers!
His funeral was a sad day for the Zoo and he is buried in St Keverne Churchyard on the Lizard, in case you are ever passing. This little plaque at Newquay Zoo is now relocated, down by the Dragon Maze.
Page 7 features a typically busy and varied day in the working life of Head Keeper and Site Operations Manager Peter Trebilcock, who worked as a keeper from 1977 to about late 2000.
Much of what I learnt about working with visitors from Pete Trebilcock is embodied in this “typical day” article. Note the 9.30 a.m. opening in 1995 – a bit early?
Curator Jon Blount redesigned the Bear Pit into the Black Macaque enclosure in 1995. He wrote this two page article on its progress, just as some of the new female macaques on breeding loan were due to arrive from Jersey Zoo.
Jon wrote this Black Macaque article partly to counter the many criticisms of old-fashioned zoos that were around at the time. Only three years previously, c. 1992, even London Zoo had been facing down demands for closure, events filmed at the time by a fly-on-the-wall documentary team.
Claire Roper, senior keeper in charge of the Wildlife Hospital is pictured here in colour from our 1996 Guidebook working with our then Zoo Vet Mike King.
We kept some newsletter pages blank until the last moment, ready for special stop press news for our adopters and members to read about new births, etc. such as our recently arrived Asian Otters and Cotton-topped Tamarins. This Christmas baby was probably an unusually pale grey baby Asian otter called Cinnamon – will have to check the roecrds on this.
The forerunner of the Amazon Wishlist for Newquay Zoo, page 12 is an appeal for spare equipment to carry on our conservation, rescue and incubation work.
I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Newquay Zoo in 1995 and how, whilst many things change, it continues to do important conservation and education work in 2018 with your help.
being the opening words by Mike Thomas of the first Paw Prints newsletter from Newquay Zoo, August 1995.
Paw Prints newsletter ran for almost ten years before merging with Paignton Zoo News c. 2004 and all this is now replaced by websites, social media and blogs, things unimaginable then. By 1996 we had a zoo website of sorts.
The Noah’s Ark theme of this first Editorial by Mike Thomas in the first edition of Paw Prints (August 1995) was one that he was to return to over the next ten years and was celebrated in our Ark ticket entrance, new c. 1994/5, rebuilt since but it still doggedly retains the Ark name today.
Zoos were heavily criticised in the late 1980s and early 1990s by some people on animal welfare grounds. Some zoos closed, others like Newquay Zoo struggled to survive financially and improve its enclosures.
The first Paw Prints Newsletter came at a point of much rebuilding on a very tight budget. Hence Mike Thomas and Jon Blount spend much time in their first editorial and articles setting out a vision of what small zoos like Newquay could become, with the support of visitors, working with many other good modern zoos around the world.
Looking at the logo used on the front page, we were proudly Newquay Animal World – subtitled Wildlife Rescue and Conservation. These two themes make up much of this first edition in August 1995. The first edition was probably written by a combination of Jane Angwin, Jon Blount and Mike Thomas. The ‘Animal World’ name would change by the time I first edited Paw Prints issue 3 for ‘Newquay Zoo’ in Summer 1996.
These early Paw Prints editions are quite simply made, cobbled together using a very basic PC word processor in the Zoo Curator’s office (the only computer in the zoo in 1995/6), a black and white photocopier, Letraset lettering transfers, black and white photographs, line drawings, ink pens, scissors, glue and sweat.
They were usually photocopied by the friendly folks at Quintdown Press in Newquay for sale in the zoo shop or sending to members, adopters and local schools, all to promote the zoo. We were encouraged as staff to take them home and leave a few around in waiting rooms whenever we had a doctor or dentist appointment.
As there is no colour in these Paw Prints , I have added some relevant colour photos from our Archive or of the scenes today. Here is the 2018 scene of the 1995 enclosures and animals shown on page 2:
Advertising posters may have been colour in 1994/5 but it was far too expensive an option for the Paw Prints Newquay Zoo newsletter. This remained mostly black and white until August 2003 when we switched to a colour front cover. Shortly after c. 2004 we merged the Paignton and Newquay Zoo and Living Coasts newsletters to provide a full colour A4 newsletter, covering news from each zoo.
Hedgehog Rescue and our Wildlife Hospital 1994 – 2004
These pages all bring back many rich and smelly memories for me as I spent many happy hours helping out in our Newquay Zoo Wildlife Hospital in the quieter times of the year in between education sessions, from about 1996 onwards. Working with native wild animals in Britain as well as ‘at risk’ species overseas were both important to the Newquay Zoo of 1995.
Hopefully the prickly descendants of rescued hedgehogs Spike, Oily, Bumble and Bill are still enjoying a wild life in Cornwall. Some of the more injured rescued hedgehogs were released into the zoo grounds and hedgehogs were certainly still around when I was working late evening several years ago.
Apologies for the copy or scan quality of the next three pages. We don’t have the original pages of the next three page article on “The Modern Zoo “ by Zoo Curator Jon Blount, as they were probably kept and heavily photocopied to help answer student and visitor enquiries about the role of a “Modern Zoo”.
“Best job I ever had“, he recently mentioned when I contacted Jon about our 50th anniversary in May 2019.
Jon Blount, then recently graduated, was our Newquay Zoo Curator from 1994 to 1997 before returning to college to do research. Today (2018) Jon is a Professor of Animal EcoPhysiology and Director of Postgraduate Research at the University of Exeter (based not very far away at the Penryn / Tremough Campus). http://biosciences.exeter.ac.uk/staff/index.php?web_id=jon_blount
I wonder what Jon would makes of his 1995 article today, comparing his Zoo Curator job as it would have been in Victorian times or the early 1900s to that he enjoyed ‘today’ in the 1990s ? He’s a busy man but hopefully he’ll have time at some point to reread it and comment, and we shall include this here if possible.
What do we learn about developments in the 1995 era zoo from this article?
New 1994/5 arrivals that Jon mentioned include the Asian Short Clawed Otters, a species we still hold and breed today in 2018. Kafue Flats Lechwe antelope and Damara Zebra “Etosha”are no longer with us. They lived on the original ‘new’ mixed species African Plains (where the rare Philippine Deer now live), but since 2009 we have an expanded African Savanna section with Chapman’s Zebra, Black Wildebeest and Nyala antelope. The last elderly female Lechwe moved in with this mixed herd in 2009. The Meerkats now live at top end of the zoo.
Jon mentions the arrival of some escapologist Banded Mongoose (housed where Tippys Café now stands), two Sooty Mangabeys (oddly behaved ex-pets “Misha” and “Ramrod”), free range Cotton-topped Tamarins (pictured) released from the Tropical House in 1996 into the trees near the Maze. We still have Crowned Cranes on our main lake edges.
Conservation, Education, Research and Recreation – still pretty much the role of a good ‘Modern Zoo’ in 2018.
By 1994 5 we had joined and been mentored into membership of the Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland with its zebra head logo, now known as BIAZA or the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariumshttps://biaza.org.uk/
We also joined EAZA, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, around the same time, widening the range of breeding programmes, studbooks and loans we could be involved in https://www.eaza.net/
We remain highly active members of both BIAZA and EAZA and so are involved in today’s version of co-operative breeding programmes for increasingly rare animals, zoo research and working on overseas conservation projects in country.
Jon Blount also mentions the creation of the Sulawesi Crested Macaque monkey group with animals on “breeding loan” from London, Marwell and Jersey Zoo. This species are still doing well here as part of that cooperative breeding programme but are now Critically Endangered on their home island of Sulawesi. One of the early youngsters born to our first Alpha Male Hemlock, a 1998 baby known as Chekeeto still heads our group in 2018.
A new Puma enclosure designcompetition is mentioned in 1995 for two rescued Pumas from a zoo which closed at Haigh in Wigan. This Puma enclosure in 2018 now houses Carpathian Lynx and their recent twin kittens.
Research 1995 and 2018
Research projects mentioned at the time include hand rearing Penguins, along with studying enclosure design and dietary effects on the behaviour of nocturnal Kinkajou and Sooty Mangabey monkeys. Botth these last two species we no longer work with. However similar nutrition, behaviour and enrichment research by students still continues today http://www.wwct.org.uk/research supervised by a full-time Research Officer, Dr. Kathy Baker. http://www.wwct.org.uk/about/people/the-team/kathy-baker
Connie, one of our longest serving volunteers, recently dropped in a handful of ‘snappy snaps’ as part of our NZ50 Anniversary request for photographs of the changing zoo over the last 50 years.
Her extended family having worked in various staff roles at Newquay Zoo, Connie basically grew up here!
These are pre-digital camera snaps, old school camera film and prints. Like many of my snappy snaps, they are occasionally a bit blurry, but nonetheless valuable for the glimpses that they give of Newquay Zoo in its 30th-something years (built 1969), when it was privately run by Mike Thomas and team (1993-2003).
That was Then, This is Now!
On a bright sunny morning in July 2018 before visitors arrived, I walked around Newquay Zoo trying to locate and photograph the scenes that Connie had photographed. This was not so easy in some areas, especially with two more decades of jungly exotic plant growth.
Connie’s photos (featured here) start from around 1999 / 2000 and up until the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust took over in August 2003, when Mike Thomas retired.
Our 1987 Tropical House is shown in its original simple light green wall background, looking through big windows into the Village Farm area.
Lake islands have long provided safe homes for many of our primates such as Lemurs and Tamarins.
Sometimes it was harder to work out where Connie’s photograph was taken from, such as in the Oriental Garden. The steep stone steps and stonework of the original Japanese Water Garden can be glimpsed in the background of her photograph. These have now gone and the whole area is more accessible.
The free-ranging Wallabies and Patagonian Cavy or Mara were very popular with visitors, much less so with our zoo gardeners. Now these roaming herbivores have moved on, the exotic planting has survived much better and Newquay Zoo is much more jungly. Funny coincidence that.
Connie’s final photograph shows the Newquay Carnival in 1999.
The Newquay Carnival still takes place in late June / early July. Sometimes we head up from Newquay Zoo to join the parade during a busy summer and sometimes not.
The Newquay Zoo Monkey Walk enclosures – Then and Now.
As part of our ongoing public appeal for photos of the changing and developing Newquay Zoo ahead of our 50th Anniversary in May 2019, it was great to receive a little packet of photos from Peter Trebilcock. Peter was a Newquay Zoo Keeper from the late 1970s and later, by the time I knew him, he was Site and Operations Manager up to about the year 2000.
Somewhere I have a photograph of Peter Trebilcock in keeper action to post here.
They were passed to Peter by a mysterious someone called ‘Richard’, dropped in to be scanned and were returned to Peter the same day! Thanks both!
Obviously taken in Winter as building staff are well wrapped up and there are no leaves on the trees.
The pages of the Children’s Guide to Newquay Zoo 1989 show which three families of large Monkeys – Diana, Green and Capuchin monkeys – were around in the early days of this rebuilt Monkey Walk enclosure. The black star shows which monkeys were considered rare in the mid 1980s.
In the 1990s this Monkey Walk housed a trio of rare African monkey families – Diana, Monkeys, Colobus Monkeys and Sooty Mangabeys.
Today 2018 these enclosures are occupied by two types of rare Capuchin Monkey (white Fronted and Yellow Breasted) and a group of Common Squirrel Monkeys.
I will add older 1969 pictures of the original Monkey Walk as they emerge from our Archive.
There you go, a little snippet of Newquay Zoo history – hopefully more of these small bundles of pictures should turn up from visitor and staff albums over the countdown to the Newquay Zoo 50th anniversary on May 26 2019.
Talking Heads Up
On Saturday July 7th and Wednesday July 11th 2018 we will be video recording the first of our talking heads interviews / short chats with past and present staff and visitors as we count down toward NZ50 in May 2019. Still a few spaces available.
If you would like to share your memories in this or any other way, contact Mark Norris or Rebecca Blake at Newquay Zoo. We would love to hear from you.
This is a brilliant and inventive set of ideas of how Newquay Zoo and its surrounding area may change by its 100th Birthday in May 2069.
It was written by members of our children’s club “Penguin Club” in 2004 for our 35th Birthday Time Capsule. A copy is included in this 2004 Newquay Zoo Time Capsule, buried on the woodland slope near our Dragon Maze.
This document has been released from our Newquay Zoo Archive as part of the countdown towards NZ50, our 50th Anniversary in May 2019. Watch this space and the Newquay Zoo website for more details www.newquayzoo.org.uk
Blogposted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo, 26 May 2019 (Newquay Zoo’s 49th Birthday).
It’s Newquay Zoo’s 49th Birthday on Sunday May 26 1969 / 2018 and the start of the twelve month countdown to our NZ50 50th anniversary celebrations in May 2019.
Talk to historians and there are dates in B.C., there are dates ending in A.D. and other versions. Round here we ought to talk about B.N.Z. Before Newquay Zoo (which meant our zoo history started roughly around 1969). Add to this BITD Back in the Day and TW Time was and you are a proper historian!
Time was there was a small children’s zoo in Newquay before our 1969 Newquay Zoo site.
There is very little known about the ‘first’ Newquay ‘Zoo’, a children’s petting zoo over in the Rose Gardens section of Trenance Gardens, just over the road from the zoo today.
It operated as far as we know only in the summer, the animals returning in winter to Exmouth Zoo. It existed from probably the late 1950s through to 1968/9, when a separate permanent zoo (us!) was built by Newquay Urban District Council.
This first zoo was built by Charles Trevisick who ran the long-vanished Ilfracombe Zoo, it was taken over and run by West Country zoo man Ken Smith of Exmouth and Shaldon Zoo.
Charles Trevisick featured Newquay Childrens’ Zoo on only one page of his autobiography My Home Is A Zoo.
This seasonal ‘zoo’ was staffed in its latter years by the late Peter Lowe (formerly of Chester Zoo) who went on to become the designer and curator of our existing zoo.
Peter Lowe had technical support from T.D. (Tom) Hurley, the Borough Engineer for Newquay Urban District Council and advice from Chester Zoo founder George Mottershead (whose life story was recently told in BBC series ‘Our Zoo’). We wrote about Peter and George’s working relationship here: https://wordpress.com/post/worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/10699
Information on this first Newquay Children’s Zoo is pretty scarce.
Russell Tofts’ excellent book on Ken Smith, Animals in the Blood: The Ken Smith Story, subtitled “A Biography of Gerald Durrell’s Right-Hand Man” was published in April 2012. It has a precious couple of paragraphs about this first Newquay Children’s Zoo.
Charles Trevisick set up the Newquay Children’s Zoo over in the Rose Gardens area of Trenance Gardens in Newquay, a few minutes walk from our current site, probably in the late 1950s.
So Ken Smith took over the running and ownership of Newquay Children’s Zoo in its final years , 1966 / 1967. We gain a few clues as to what this first zoo looked like:
This mention of a Hyacinthine Macaw by Mike Curzon, a well known zoo curator bird keeper, is interesting, as one is pictured in our zoo section of a Newquay tourism guide of the time. They were pretty rare birds in zoos then and no record exists in the patchy Newquay Zoo index cards for macaws, parrots and other birds covering 1969-1976. This lack of a zoo record card suggest this valuable bird probably never transferred to Newquay Zoo and may have returned to Ken Smith when Newquay Children’s Zoo closed down c. 1969.
This bird is still listed as Endangered and part of an organised breeding programme in many zoos. Hyacinth macaw numbers are in decline as a result of habitat loss and over-collection for the illegal pet trade. It is estimated that at least 10,000 birds were taken from the wild in the 1980s:http://www.arkive.org/hyacinth-macaw/anodorhynchus-hyacinthinus/
Anyone recognise any of the people in these photos? Please let us know via the comments.
Current Newquay Zoo bird keeper Gary Ward and Curator John Meek checked the photo, used in several publications into The Newquay Zoo period (stock Newquay tourism colour photo?) and conformed that it is a Hyacinthine Macaw.
The leafy tree and white trellis background is also interesting. Roger Williams, our longest serving Newquay Zoo Keeper on and off since about 1970 didn’t recognise any of the people but thought that this may have been taken at the original Children’s Zoo in the Trenance Gardens as a publicity shot of some of the animals (monkey, macaw, rabbit).
Alternatively, the white trellis might be part of the original monkey walk, still preserved in the structure of our Nocturnal House.
Who knows? This colour picture with the Hyacinth Macaw may be currently our only picture of the original Newquay Children’s Zoo in the 1960s.
More on the first Newquay Children’s Zoo from Russell Tofts:
This passage by Russell Tofts suggests that the Newquay Children’s Zoo project was coming to a close. Russell Tofts mentions ‘council apathy’ towards its offspring and changing councillors.
Since the book was written in 2012, we now have some of Peter Lowe’s letters to George Mottershead at Chester Zoo (from the Chester Zoo archive) from about this time period as Peter prepared to take over the setting up of the new Council built Zoo. (we’ll publish these in a future blogpost) It seems that supportive councillors like Councillor ‘Jimmy’ J. Rogers had seen the possibilities for a permanent zoo and so had switched their interest and attention to this.
Trenance Gardens Today
Nothing remains of the first Newquay Children’s Zoo at the Rose Gardens site. Strolling up to Cheski’s wedding last month in May 2018, I photographed the lovely gardens on a Spring evening.
The Tolcarne Brick Seat has an interesting link to the current Newquay Zoo – it is the site of our African Savanna field, opened in 2009, was formerly a school playing field known as Little Wembley. It was built across a former brickworks, Tolcarne Brickwortks, whose distinctively marked bricks make up not only many local houses but also the Tolcarne brick seat in Trenance Gardens (lovely local touch this!)
The leisure activity in this area of Newquay seems to have grown from the founding of the Trenance Gardens in 1906 and the Trenance Bowling Club (founded in 1916).
We have a few glimpses of the Newquay Zoo site in its days as a farm and brickworks.
The Savanna field like much of the zoo appears to be brick clay, puddling easily and good for animal hoofmarks, not so good for hoof-care without drainage and hard standings.
Probably the best glimpse that we get is the photograph taken from the Viaduct by former Council head gardener Ernie Littlefield about 1968:
Compare this photo to Ernie Littlefield’s May 26, 1969 Opening Day photograph:
So there you go, the long and the short of it, the Back in the Day, B.N.Z Before Newquay Zoo.
Completing the Before Newquay Zoo trip back in time … glimpsed on my walk past the Rose Gardens, once home to the first Newquay Children’s Zoo, I walked aong the Gannel River, past Trethellan Farm field, prehistoric housing.
A possible prehistoric worked flint tuned up in the zoo flowerbeds back in 2003, spotted by zoo visitor Mike Solomon.
Strange to think that people have been visiting Newquay and living here for thousands of years, sometimes to watch animals … and occasionally hunt them for meat and fur. The threat to many of our rare animals today – an oddly full circle place to end our 49th Birthday blogpost.
Happy Birthday Newquay Zoo, 49 years old on Whitsun / Sunday the 26 May 2018.