I recently picked up a trio of vintage postcards of early 1970s Newquay Zoo animals. These are postcards printed using photos from the eventual 1970s / 80s Guidebook. Most of the Newquay Zoo postcards that I have found are also doubled up in the Zoo Guidebook.
How do these link in with our other records of our early animal inhabitants?
We still have African Lions at Newquay Zoo (2018). Our first two Newquay Zoo lions moved in 1969 into what has now become the site of our new Gems of the Jungle aviary, before the Lion House was built c. 1970/1.
According to long serving Keeper Roger Williams, our first lions were known as Queenie and Charlie.
This new / old 1970 Lion House building housed Pumas in the 1990s, then Fossas from 2003-2017.
Now almost 50 years old, it will soon be taken down (April / May 2018) pending further use. Before it comes down, I have photographed it as I did for the old Puma / Leopard House / Aviary that became Gems of the Jungle. I have also roughly measured it as well, dens and all! This will feature in a future blogpost.
From the Record card, it appears Queenie and Charlie were presented by Bristol Zoo (i.e. like animal transfers today, no money changed hands). These may have been older animals as in March 1973 the male (Charlie?) died of radial (limb) paralysis.
A new four year old Lion male and female arrived from the now closed Sherwood Zoo (1968 – 1976) for £500 a pair.
Very briefly for a few months we had three lions, the elderly female (Queenie?) passing away in January 1974.
A Lion featured with a Scarlet Macaw on the front of our 1970s guidebook.
A forthcoming blog post will try to set out as clear a timeline of our Newquay Zoo Lions as best I can research.
Our pair of Chinese leopards were bought in May 1969 from London Zoo ‘surplus’ livestock for 180 guineas a pair. This was all “back in the day” before cooperative breeding programmes for endangered species were widely in place between zoos, such as we have today. The leopards were soon replaced in 1973 by Pumas, after the female leopard was euthanized.
Where South-East Asian birds now stroll and fly in our new walk-through Gems of the Jungle, Chinese Leopards once prowled and growled (next door for a short time to Lions, then Pumas).
It is not recorded which sub-species of Chinese Leopard our pair were. Chinese Leopards today are increasingly threatened (Vulnerable IUCN Red Data List) by habitat loss and hunting. http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15954/0
We have a modern copy of a back-dated ZIMS record from London Zoo which suggests that Cleo the female (LON 7 or 0080, b. Oct 1968) and male (b. 1968 LON 7 0079) left London Zoo on 2 May 1969 and may have been brother and sister, who arrived here very young. It may explain why they did not (thankfully!) breed. Assuming of course that the ZSL London Zoo sire and dam record is correct.
The female Chinese Leopard (Cleo?) died or was euthanized on 3rd May 1973.
Talking to Roger Williams and Mark ‘Cheski’ Tomaszweski, she may have had a form of cancer or Feline Leukaemia. No cause of death is given on our record card, very different from the extensive medical records and post-mortem information gained today from an animal’s life and death.
The remaining male Chinese Leopard was sold or exchanged for four Pumas ( 1 male / three females) with Ravensden Zoo (c. 16 -18th August 1973). This was obviously the exchange rate as no money transaction is recorded. Roger Williams thinks the male Chinese Leopard may have been called Raj.
One Chinese Leopard equals four Pumas!
Ravensden Zoo Company was once a well known animal commercial ‘exchange venue’ or ‘clearing house’ between zoos for ‘surplus’ livestock from about 1961 onwards (Ravensden Zoological Co / Ltd closed c. 2000?).
The four Pumas of 1973 were housed on both sides of this house from 1973, the Lions having moved out. The male Puma having proved an awkward male, you could separate him off using the dens and two sides of the enclosure.
Later in the mid 1990s three new pumas Shane, Tina and Jethro arrived from other closed zoos like Haigh Mini Zoo in Wigan. They went into the old 1970 Lion house whilst we fundraised for the Puma House (which now houses Lynx). I hope you’re following all this change!
Himalayan or Asiatic Black Bears
The whole story of the Himalayan bears arriving from a pub named the Bear in Hodnet, Shropshire will feature in a forthcoming blogpost. A fascinating story that Keeper Roger Williams remembers well.
Himalayan or Asiatic black bears (Selenarctos thibetanus) are now listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red Data list. Their endangered status is mostly due to habitat loss and the Asian bear parts and bile trade http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22824/0
Chatting to long serving Keepers Roger Williams and Mark Tomaszewski, Three of these first four bears were called Chunky, Jemima and young Marion (who died 1982/3). One of these four, a female bear arrived from Bideford after the short-lived Bideford Zoo closed (opened 29 May 1966 – closed 17 Oct 1970).
After the brief information on the record card, we only have a post-mortem record for Chunky. I remember the last of these, a partially-sighted old female called Chunky, who passed away from old age / euthanized c. January 1995.
Chunky is not the kindest of names for a lady bear! Bears could once freely be fed peanuts or fruit by the public, according to the 1969 Guide and Map. No more – this was obviously in the days before today’s strict nutritionally balanced diets.
Two female Sea Lions arrived in June 1969 from Tysley Pet stores in Birmingham, the month after the zoo opened. A pair of females cost £350 pound shillings and pence (LSD / or guineas) in 1969. A male Californian sealion joined them in March 1971 from Ravensden Zoological Company for £175, obviously the same going rate for Californian Sealions at the time, even after decimal currency was launched mid February 1971.
No successful breeding is recorded by the time the male sealion died in October 1975.
Where did the female Sealions go? I don’t currently know. These record cards only last into the mid 1970s and we have a bit of a records gap from then on into the 1980s.
The Californian Sealions eventually passed or moved away and the pool became home for a time to remote control model boats (!) from the early 1980s until it became a Humboldt Penguin Pool again, as it has been for at least the last 25 to 30 Years.
Roger and Mark think at some point a species of seal may have briefly been in residence, before penguins. Where the Penguins lived in 1969 before their pool was built in the early 1970s (currently home to Meerkats) is unclear at present. That is another story …
There is a great picture of Norman Marshall the Head Keeper working with sealions , an archive photo loaned by Mrs. Marshall.
This baccy tin is obviously a very early form of sealion enrichment and training!
The Californian Sealion in their 1970s / 80s guidebook description is rather grandly “ranked amongst the most attractive of Zoo exhibits”.
As you can see, c. 1969 Guide leaflet and map, there were three sea lion feeds – 2.45, 3.45. 4.45 – obviously a popular event. Bears (3pm) and Leopards (3.15pm) were also daily public feeds except Leopard starve day on Friday.
Here are the Guide book listings from the 1970s / 1980s zoo guide, using the same postcard pictures:
Interesting how little information is mentioned about ‘Conservation’, in fact this would wait until the Newquay Zoo Children’s Zoo Guide of 1989 and our 1996 Guide Book.
Another nugget of Newquay Zoo history trivia!
Blogposted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo History blog, April 2018.