Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ghost Zoo--Plymouth Zoo

Plymouth Zoo was located in Central Park adjacent to Plymouth Arhyle's Home Park Football Ground.

It took only seven months for the idea to construct a zoo in Central Park, Plymouth to begin to become a reality and only a further ten weeks from the first bulldozer starting work and the opening ceremony.

Plymouth Zoo was opened at 3pm on Thursday April 19th 1962 by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Mr W Ivor Thompson. In the first hour there were almost 1,000 visitors. Admission cost 1s 6d for adults and one shilling for children. It was open from 10am until dusk every day of the year.

The co-directors were Mr Jimmy Chipperfield, of the famous circus family, and Mr George Houghton.

In the plan above, C indicates the main entrance with the office (A) and caretaker's bungalow (B) on either side. Surrounding the garden (D) were to be aviary houses (E). The lions and chimpanzees were to be together at F and G, with the tigers close by at N while adjoining the Plymouth Argyle Football ground were the giraffes (H), elephants (M) and bear-pit (P). There were also to be a tropical house (J), a reptile house (Q), and a pool for sea-lions (S), close to which was the refreshment kiosk (R) and a terrace (T). The quarantine building (W) was clear of most of the rest of the animals. K and L had not been allocated at that time and other missing letters related to service buildings.

Prefabricated buildings were used to house the 200 or so animals, which kept the cost of the whole venture to around £30,000.

On Sunday September 8th 1963 Plymouth Zoo lost "Ralph", a young giraffe, after it had apparently been fed a plastic bag by a child. The animal had been with the Zoo since just after it had opened and was 2½ years old. Another six giraffes that had arrived from Africa during the summer of 1963 were due to come out of quarantine and would be on view to the public later that week.

In July 1977 the Tropical House was closed.

Plymouth Zoo closed entirely on Sunday January 8th 1978 as a result of falling visitor numbers. The Chipperfield family formed a new company, Kingfisher Leisure, to convert the zoo grounds into a skateboard park, retaining some of the birds as an attraction for the skateboarders. The animals were removed to Longleat House and Bournemouth Zoo but the quarantine facility continued to operate for a few more years. The manager at the time of closure was Mr Charlie Harris.



Plymouth local history: Plymouth Zoo



Plymouth zoo

1979 Note the tall door in the background. This is the old giraffe exhibit apparently. In the photo below the stone wall in the background is the stone wall in the front of the giraffe exhibit in the photo from 1963.


Dan Koehl said...

I think the elephant on the picture from Plymouth Zoo may be the male asian elephant Maxi, who was later trasnfered to Circus Hoffman. I dont think Plymouth Zoo had other elephants than Maxi, but I may be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Plymouth zoo had several elephants at different times, I remember one died as a result of a fire in the elephant house in the middle 60's, but there were more than one at the zoo during it's lifetime.

Dan Koehl said...

Thanks for putting attention to this. Can you recall if that elephants name was Tammy? She seem to have resided there, and died in 1965? Metnioned by Vina Shaddick here: