This New Year’s Day will be one for the history books at Paignton Zoo as we enter into our centenary year. It was in 1923 that Paignton Zoo, formally known as Primley Zoological Gardens, opened its gate for the very first time and 100 years later, we intend to celebrate this incredible milestone throughout the entire year. In the coming months, we will be sharing some intriguing stories and rare photos from a century’s worth of history. By paying tribute to our past, we will be celebrating all of the progress we’ve made that has led us to where we are today, allowing us to educate our community and work on important projects. We will also be revealing our exciting plans for the future and the changes you can expect to see over the next 10 years. It’s certainly going to be a year to remember for Paignton Zoo and we would love to for you all to join us.
In readiness for the upcoming centenary celebrations, our team have been trawling through the archives and uncovering old diaries, journals, news articles and photographs, some of which have been somewhat surprising! We are now curating which items will be put on display in a special exhibit that will commemorate 100 years of zoo history; the dates for when this will be running will be announced soon. Additionally, we’ve set up a Facebook group to allow our amazing extended zoo community to participate in the shared nostalgia. Many treasured moments from staff and visitors throughout the decades can be found here and we are immensely grateful for all of these touching contributions. A lot of this content will also be shared in our on-site exhibit, so if you would like to take part, there’s still time to do so: Memories of Paignton Zoo | Facebook
As we countdown to our official anniversary in July, we will also be highlighting the many exciting projects currently ongoing within the zoo, as well as the work being carried out as part our UK-based and overseas conservation programmes. As part of the Wild Planet Trust charity, we are involved with fascinating projects all over the world, which are vital in helping to halt species decline. If you would like a sneak peek at some of these, you can visit the Wild Planet Trust website to learn more.
Although we have seen a lot of change at the zoo over the past 100 years, our mission to provide a place of learning, where people can discover the wonders of nature, remains just as true today as it was when we first opened. In November, we announced that in 2023 we would be inviting school groups in for free as part of a Schools Go Free campaign, which we have also extended to our sister zoo Newquay Zoo. This campaign has been immensely popular and we are thrilled to be welcoming so many schools who might not have otherwise had the means or opportunity to visit and learn with us.
Turning 100 years old is of course a huge achievement, but our focus is centred upon what the next 10, 20, or 100 years may bring. Right now, we are working on our 10 year conservation plan, with complex and innovative new projects that will ensure Paignton Zoo continues to thrive for many more years to come. More details about this exciting plan will be revealed very soon, so watch this space! Be sure to also keep an eye out on our social media pages throughout year for exclusive news, events, throwbacks and a very special competition, which we will be launching as soon as we hit 100k Facebook followers – so help us spread the word.