An early 1969 Newquay Zoo Map

Thanks to John Adams of the Bartlett Society  we have received a copy of our earliest known Newquay Zoo map from 1969.

1969 70 NZ map
1969 era Newquay Zoo guide map (courtesy of John Adams)

We had a little glimpse of this 1969 zoo layout in Ernie Littlefield’s photograph taken from the railway viaduct. The Little Western Railway was already established in the foreground along with ample car parking.


Before this, our earliest Newquay Zoo map in our zoo archive was the Newquay Zoo Children’s Guide c. 1989!

1969 70 NZ crop 5
Close up of the animal ‘core’ of  Newquay Zoo, 1969.


A few surprises which aren’t in our patchy record cards from 1969 – otters are marked at map No. 6 where Tippy’s café now stands. I last remember this space with animals  c. 1994-5 as an (escaping) mongoose exhibit, before it changed to become a café named after its new neighbour, our first Brazilian Tapir c. 1996.

tippys 1999
Our first Tippy’s café in 1999, still with the surrounding wall perhaps of the original 1969 Otter enclosure, then aviary 1985, later Mongoose 1990s enclosure. (Photo 1999 Mark Norris)


What’s not on the Newquay Zoo Map in 1969?

The western boundary to the 1969 / early 1970s Newquay Zoo is the stream which now cuts through the zoo.

A few surprises looking at the 1969 map:

No ‘old’ penguin enclosure where Meerkats now dig.

No ‘old’ lion house where Harry the Fossa now sleeps.

According to Roger Williams, one of our longest serving keepers who worked here as a young man c. 1970-1974 (before a long  ‘career break’, returning to Newquay Zoo over 25 years later), the ‘old’ lion house was being built c. 1970/71.  (It is now the Fossa House).

Roger thinks that the Lions which arrived from Bristol Zoo in 1969 (Queenie and Charlie?) occupied one side of the Leopard enclosure (No. 9 on the 1969 map) until their enclosure was finished c. 1971. Pumas replaced Leopards c. 1973 by which time the Lions were in their own house.

bactrian camel 1970s
Bactrian Camel from our 1970s/80s guidebook (Newquay Zoo Archive)


The paddocks for camels (where Carpathian Lynx now live) appeared around June 1973,  when 2 Bactrian Camels appeared from the declining Belle Vue Zoo Manchester.

The Carpathian Lynx (1990s Puma enclosure) and Education Centre now occupy this space.


1970s penguin pool NZ
Humboldt Penguins from our 1970s / 80s guidebook, with in the background the Camel Paddock. (Newquay Zoo Archive)


Probably the ‘old’ Penguin Pool (now home to Meerkats!) appeared by or circa. 1973/4 when 6 more Humboldt Penguins arrived in September 1973.

Roger Williams isn’t sure where the first 2 penguins lived  (donated by Newquay councillor Mr Rogers at the Bay Hotel from off the local golf course, but that’s another story). In some zoos in the past like Rode Bird Gardens and Exmoor Zoo, Humboldt Penguins lived in a freshwater lake with other Wildfowl.

Shetland ponies from the Sherberton Stud moved in over the stream onto paddocks / pasture where our Dragon Maze now stands (to the left of the Flamingo and Waterfowl lake).

For several years the zoo’s edge and natural boundary was the stream.

The 1969 Chester Zoo sourced Bison ‘on the Hill’ left the zoo for Sherwood Zoo in 1973 – look out for a forthcoming blogpost on these animals who lived where the Pitch and Putt now runs.

The Guidebook format is an A3 colour sheet folded over with map on reverse.

1969 70 NZ map 2

Looked at rightways up the Guide Map reveals some interesting clues about the opening season / early years of the zoo.

Animal feeding was allowed  by the public for a surprisingly large number of animals including fruit or nuts thrown down into the Bear Pit.

A surprisingly early warning about the environmental dangers of plastic bags!

1969 70 NZ crop 3
Newquay Zoological Gardens Guide Map c. 1969 Courtesy of John Adams


1969 70 NZ crop 4
Guide to Newquay Zoological Gardens c. 1969 (Courtesy of John Adams)

The photographs such as Bison and Sealions are courtesy of (i.e. taken at) other zoos such as Chester Zoo, suggesting that this is a very early guide map prepared before these animals were properly in place.

Newquay Zoo still opens at 10 a.m. We still open all year round except Christmas Day. The other surprise was the OPEN ALL YEAR ROUND, something I thought was introduced c. 1994 when I first began to work with Newquay Zoo. The debate over the success of year round winter opening appeared in very early press cuttings held at the zoo.

John Adams also sent an image of the 1970s/80s Newquay Zoo guidebook map, c. 1983-85,  which allows you to compare the two and the progress over our first 15 years.

Best looked at sideways to compare with the 1969 version,  you can see much more development over the stream (18-22)  into the Dragon maze area and Tarzan Trail and past the Bear Pit at the top paddock end of the zoo  (9 – 14).

We will feature more comparison maps and guidebooks of the zoo over forthcoming blogposts.

1983/85 guidebook Newquay Zoo version with a map  (courtesy John Adams) – rare beasts like remote radio  controlled boats had replaced sealions!


‘Bison on the hill’ is the subject for a forthcoming blogpost. We mentioned more on our sister blog in 2014:

Just off to obtain some refreshment from our Zoological Café, still there, still serving but slightly bigger …


Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo History blog, May 2016.


Picturing the building of Newquay Zoo 1969 then and now

1969 then and now lake road 2
Newquay Zoo Lake Road Then and Now 1969 /2016 – black and white photo Ernie Littlefield, colour photo Mark Norris
1969 then and now tropical house 2
Newquay Zoo then and now photos Tropical House and Monkey Walk then 1969 (Ernie Littlefield), now 2016 colour Mark Norris.


Ernie Littlefield was the Parks Superintendent for Newquay Urban District Council in the 1960s and 1970s, so effectively Newquay Zoo’s first head gardener.

Ernie  also cared for the Trenance Gardens and Rose Gardens around the famous Trenance Boating lake. This was the area where the first fledgling ‘Newquay Children’s Zoo‘ was created by Charles Trevisick and Ken Smith in the late 1950s / early 1960s until Newquay Zoo was built on its present site in 1968/69. For more details of this period  see our Wikipedia timeline and future blogposts

Taken over near our Lake Road and Maze end of the zoo:  Mud and more mud as the zoo site develops 1968 / 1969 Photo Courtesy of Ernie Littlefield / Newquay Zoo.

Black and white photos are all  courtesy of Ernie Littlefield / Newquay Zoo collection.

Ernie and his team of gardeners laid out the formal planting of Newquay Zoo in 1968/69.

Long after Ernie’s retirement, one of his 1968 young trainee gardeners Michael (or Mike) Perry was still caring for it until his retirement in the late 1990s.

Now retired, Michael Perry was one of life’s gentlemen and a gentle gardener,  who remembered Ernie kindly as a hard task master but an excellent teacher with very, very high standards.

1999 30 birthday Littlefield
92 year old ‘Head Gardener’ Ernie Littlefield returns to the Zoo he planted in 1969 for our 30th birthday hosted by our then Zoo Director Mike Thomas  (from the Newquay Zoo press cuttings c. 26 May 1999)


I was fortunate enough to meet Ernie Littlefield (but sadly only the once) when he returned to Newquay Zoo in 1999 on our 30th birthday to cut our birthday cake and review how his planting was faring 30 years on.

“When I first visited the site it was uninteresting meadows with a whole lot of diseased elm trees … Now visitors have a lovely show.” Ernie Littlefield, 1999

Newquay Zoo Opening Day May 26 1969 photo courtesy of Ernie Littlefield


I knew of Ernie Littlefield as gardener through the planting around me at the Zoo. I knew of Ernie’s other passion through his son  John Littlefield who ran the beautifully landscaped Pitch and Putt golf course opposite the Zoo entrance (where our Bison used to roam in the 1970s, but that’s another story).

Ernie’s other passion was photography, photographing the zoo in black and white as it was built in 1968/69.  Strangely photography was a passion that Michael Perry, cheerfully recording the changing zoo and its staff into the 1990s. (His zoo collection is now in private hands in Newquay).

ACE engineering staff putting mesh on our vanished Walk Through Aviary, Newquay Zoo 1969 – the Newquay gasometer at Trocadero has also gone. Photo courtesy of Ernie Littlefield / Newquay Zoo


1969 then and now walkthrough aviary 2016 gems
Building the new ‘Gems’ walkthrough aviary 47 years on just to the side of the old aviary, Gems of the Jungle site, Newquay Zoo May 2016.



1969 then and now walkthrough aviary
From within one old former walkthrough aviary to the modern version – Gems of the Jungle – under construction Newquay Zoo May 2016. Photo Mark Norris.


Some of the old photographs are interesting as we rebuild modern versions of original enclosures for modern zoo uses.

A  few yards from the old 1969 Walk Through Aviary is the site of the old 1969  leopard / puma and later macaw aviary,  demolished last year to make way for the new Gems of the Jungle walkthrough aviary opening later this year, home to colourful endangered Asian songbirds.

1969 walkthrough aviary alex charity .jpg
The ‘old’ Walkthrough Aviary 1969 when new, Newquay Zoo (now dismantled and nicknamed the Secret Garden). Keeper probably Alex Charity. Photograph: Ernie Littlefield / Newquay Zoo Collection.

It’s been a muddy winter to build through, so nothing has changed much since 1969.

Here are some more of Ernie Littlefield’s photos of the zoo being built in winter 1968 and spring 1969:

Edging enclosures at Newquay Zoo – possibly the central deer area?  1969 Photo Courtesy of Ernie Littlefield / Newquay Zoo.


1969 then and now deer paddock
The same edging can still be seen today around the central deer area, now with the world’s rarest deer the Prince Alfred’s Spotted Deer from the Visayan islands of the Philippines. Photo Mark Norris.

1969 then and now deer paddock 2


Looking down the Lake Road towards the Zoo Entrance and railway viaduct Newquay Zoo  May 1969.  Photo Courtesy of Ernie Littlefield / Newquay Zoo.

1969 then and now lake road

1969 then and now lake road 2

The Railway Viaduct is a great help in working out where some photographs were taken from.


littlefieldtrophouseWho is that happy child? The original one storey Tropical House, original Monkey Walk and Children’s Zoo, Newquay Zoo 1969.These tiny saplings are now great trees. Photo courtesy of Ernie Littlefield / Newquay Zoo.

1969 then and now tropical house 2

The scene as it is today 2016, from tiny saplings to giant trees …


zoo70scafeThe Zoological Café as it was then known. A colour tourism guide photograph (early 1970s) of Ernie Littlefield’s planting around the  original Zoo / Trenance Gardens café, Newquay Zoo. Parking by the tennis courts can just be glimpsed.

Happy 47th Birthday Newquay Zoo for 26 May 2016.

Look out for more random photos and items each month for our archive as we work towards our 50th anniversary on May 26 2019.

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo History Blog, May 2016



Newquay Zoo 1974 and 2016



Bartlett Newsletter 2016 NZ.jpgOn the front cover of this month’s edition of Bartlett Society Newsletter No. 145 May 2016 is a fine  photograph from our archive collection of the Penguin Pool c. mid 1970s.

Meerkats now roam here, the Humboldt penguins have moved round the corner to the old Sealion Pool.

Reference is made in an article by Russell Tofts to Newquay Zoo’s entry in Wildlife ’74-76: An illustrated reference guide to Zoos, Wildlife Parks, Bird Gardens and Aquariums. This guide was  compiled by K. F. Robins and M. A. Radford and published by Burnham Interzoo Publications Ltd., 1974.

This gives a fairly good picture of what was here in 1974 at Newquay Zoo.

Newquay Zoo was established in 1969 by Newquay District Council and is based upon an open plan design which has been beautifully landscaped. Wide roads divide the Zoo as follows: 7 paddocks which accommodate Red Deer, Formosan Deer, Wallabies, Camels, Llama, Shetland Ponies and large walking birds, Cranes, Cassowaries and Rheas.

Artistically placed between these paddocks are the following: Large Walk Through Aviary, Chough Aviary, Sealion Pool, Penguin Pool, Lion and Puma enclosures, Bear Pit, Pets Corner, Tropical House, Monkey Walk and four lakes containing Pelicans, Flamingos and assorted Waterfowl.

Size: 8 and a half acres.

Russell Tofts, chairman of the Bartlett Society wrote an interesting account of the ‘BS’ members’ visit / tour to the zoo on April 17 2016 but also his memories of visiting Newquay Zoo as a child c. summer 1974.

NZ lion c 1974
Press photograph, probably of Charlie our first male African lion, supplied to several publications including Wildlife 1974-76  (Newquay Zoo collection)


The illustration to this 1974 guide was an African lion photograph (also found in our press cutting archive), peering out of its den entrance in the ‘old’ Lion House, where Harry our elderly male  Fossa now lives.

A few Bartlett Society members outside the old Lion House on our April 17 2016 tour of Newquay Zoo. Russell Tofts is third left, I’m first left with a copy of Bartlett Society founder the late Clinton Keeling’s Mammalian Hybrids book (edited by Russell, 2016).


Russell  in his article  included his carefully hole punched, filed  and treasured memento of that trip, a Himalayan Bear and Chinese Leopard postcard of Newquay Zoo. Interestingly he mentions the high price of postcards then and the absence of a guidebook.

NZ Chinese leopard record card 1969
Sparse entries on the surviving Chinese Leopard record card (Newquay Zoo archive).  4 pumas from Ravensden replaced these on the 18th August 1973.

The last Chinese Leopard left our collection c. August 1973  (in exchange for 4 Pumas?) whilst Himalayan bears remained until c. 1993 /4.

We will shortly be posting an interesting story about the unusual origin of some of our bears,  as well as a 1969 and 1983 edition of our guidebook kindly loaned by John Adams, another member of the Bartlett Society.

NZ postcard russell tofts
Russell Tofts’ treasured hole punched and filed away postcard of Newquay Zoo, summer 1974 (courtesy of Russell Tofts)

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo History blog, Newquay Zoo 24 May 2016.


Race to Open Newquay Zoo for Whitsun 1969

Amongst our Newquay Zoo  press cuttings are the following press articles, which I retyped in our Paw Prints newsletter for our 30th Birthday display in May 1999.

nequay zoo whitsun press CG 22569

Newquay Zoo, opening day Whit Monday  May 26 1969. Photograph Copyright Ernie Littlefield / Newquay Zoo.



Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo History Blog, 23 May 2016 – more Newquay Zoo History blogposts due in the next few days.

Bank Holidays obviously haven’t changed weather much …

Newquay zoo news 29569