Where’s our Mini Van ORL 649M now?

zoo van crop

The Newquay Zoo mini van c. 1970s (photo courtesy of Mrs. Norman Marshall, wife of curator Norman Marshall / Newquay Zoo collection)

The famous Newquay Zoo Mini van ORL649M readied for the Newquay carnival sometime in the 1970s or 1980s.

We still take part sometimes in the Newquay Carnival, just as we will this weekend, usually with a dressed up zoo van or vehicle and staff in costume. So nothing much has changed!

Why the Chimpanzees?

Looking after Chimpanzee groups today in zoos is now very, very different from the 1970s. The Chimp’s Tea Party  reference is an interesting one. Anyone growing up in the 1960s and 1970s will be familiar with Chimps on tea advertising and featured in tea parties at famous zoos.

The Zoo had two Chimpanzees from  its early days into the mid 1980s. A female  arrived ‘presented’ by Bristol Zoo in May 1969 and was  joined by a male from Paignton Zoo in July 1969. They feature in our guidebooks well into the late 1980s along the Monkey Walk.  (They had gone by the Newquay Zoo Children’s Guide of 1989).


zoovancolourZoo marketing in its early days!

Look at all the Trenance Leisure Park Gardens attractions  shown such as the Biergarten at Waterworld.

The chimp on the toboggan? The Toboggan run (now closed) below where Wooden Waves skate park now stands.

All these 1970s and 1980s attractions were an evolving part of the original Council  planned Leisure Park – it is still a vibrant corner of Newquay today.

zoo van crop

These fabulous photographs were lent from the collection of Mrs. Norman Marshall, wife of the 1970s / 1980s Newquay Zoo Curator / Head Keeper Norman Marshall.

council zoo logo van
Close up of the council zoo logo

Is this old logo a Pelican? We used to have Pelicans (and Flamingoes) in the zoo up till the early 1990s.

zoo pelican logo

Where is that Mini van ORL649M now?

Still on the road and doing the Riviera Run to the West Country or gone to the scrap heap in the sky? We would love to know!

Carnival has been great fun over the years and a joy to see which Newquay group is poking fun at which bit of Newquay! Remember the now vanished dancing willow women figures on Trenance Boating Lake? Three ladies dressed in a few rush beach mats on the back of a float was one great satirical comment on these controversial artworks.

We still take part sometimes in the Newquay Carnival, usually with a dressed up zoo van and staff in costume. So nothing much changed!

Any surviving photos from staff collections will be a great subject for a future Newquay Zoo History blogpost …

Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo History blogpost, July 2016


If you’re too young to remember Chimp’s Tea Parties, here is a (1920s/30s?) London Zoo postcard from my zoo collection.

chimps teaparty zsl



Author: worldwarzoogardener1939

World war zoo gardener and zoo educator at Newquay Zoo Cornwall UK

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