If you have ever wondered why our Newquay Zoo Ticket Office and Entrance are called the Ark, here is why!
Around 1993/4 the original zoo entrance was remodelled by Mike Thomas into the shape of an Ark, complete with dove cot above (not fun to clean out).
The symbolism of the zoo as an Ark for endangered species was obviously the idea, based on Gerald Durrell’s book The Stationary Ark (1970s, still in print, still a good read).
These gate murals of animals going into the Ark, painted to celebrate the rebuilt ARK entrance at Newquay Zoo, caused occasional confusion amongst visitors.
“Where were the giraffes, the rhinos, the elephants shown on the gates?” asked slightly annoyed or puzzled visitors.
It would be another ten years, a change of name and another change of ownership before we sort of did have giraffe, rhino and elephants – by joining up with Paignton Zoo as part of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT). If I now get asked where our elephants or giraffes are, I usually now point helpfully in the direction of Devon.
David Young, who is seen in our press cutting (c. 1993/4) opening the new Zoo entrance, was the host of the TSW show on South west television called Oliver’s Travels, after his dog Oliver (which makes him one of the few non-assistance dogs to have been allowed on site).
The heritage rust of our gates have recently been renewed with new gates for the first time in at least 25 years, maybe even 48 years …
The old pigeon or dove cot (note the Biblical Ark story symbolism) is now quiet, claened out and boxed in.
So that is the story of the curious ongoing name of the Ark?
Some staff might remember an attempt to rename this area in a staff suggestion / competition when the murals, pigeons and doves had gone and the Ark shape had been partly removed.
The winning suggestion was “The Lodge”, but many years later this has never really caught on. The Ark it still is then …
Cheski (keeper Mark Tomaszewski) mentioned on our phone list above is another big chunk of Newquay Zoo history, whom we will feature in our November or December Newquay Zoo history blog post.
Posted by Mark Norris, Newquay Zoo History blog, September / October 2017.