Paignton Zoo has been both a zoological and botanical garden since it opened in 1923. We are renowned for our animal-based conservation, education and research work, but we also boast an extensive collection of plants from around the globe.
Some of the plants grown here end up being fed to the animals or used to provide perches or bedding. In turn, some of the manure produced by herbivores like the elephant, giraffes and rhinos is made into Zoo Poo, a successful organic compost sold around the country and in our shop.
Around the Zoo you will see themed gardens. The Economic Garden has plants that provide us with food, clothing, shelter and fuel, while the Medicinal Garden celebrates the role of plants in medicine.
The Zoo is also home to VertiCrop™ the latest in plant growing technology, meeting the needs of the human population while reducing the pressure to clear precious habitat to grow crops. This technology could usher in a new era of urban horticulture.
VertiCrop™ is a commercial high-density vertical growing system which increases production volume for field crops up to 20 times over but requires as little as 5% of the normal water supply. It is a non-GM solution to food problems, using trays on a looped dynamic conveyor belt and automatic feeding stations to grow plants efficiently.
A zoo seems an unlikely location for this ground-breaking project, but installing VertiCrop™ at Paignton Zoo means we can grow more plants in less room using less water and less energy. It will help to reduce food miles and bring down our annual bill for animal feed, which is currently in excess of £200,000 a year.