One talented local youngster became a VIP for the day.Four year old Aaliyah Brown from Chudleigh officially opened the Zoo’s new Investigate exhibit. The opportunity was her prize after winning an art competition to design a super bug.

Katherine Sobey from Paignton Zoo said: “There were three categories - 6 and under, 7 to 12 years and 13 to 16 years. Finalists were selected from each category - they won a family ticket to Paignton Zoo and were invited to the official opening. On the day we awarded first prize and the honour of opening Investigate – and Aaliyah won!” The Zoo ran the art competition in partnership with Palm FM.

Investigate is an unusual new attraction devoted to invertebrates - animals with no backbone. Butterflies, beetles, woodlice, worms, clams, crabs, octopus, snails and starfish are all invertebrates - in fact, about 97% of species fall into the category.

Mike Bungard, Paignton Zoo’s Curator of Lower Vertebrates & Invertebrates, said: “This is one zoo exhibit that isn’t about conservation or ecology - it’s about technology and inspiration. It’s about how remarkable inverts are. Inverts have inspired architecture, medicine and technology. They have helped to shape our world. They aren’t pests, they are essential to our modern way of life! We hope everyone will investigate incredible invertebrates!”

The exhibit is in part a tribute to the late Dr David Stradling, who was a trustee and chairman of the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust. “He was an enthusiastic and inspiring advocate for invertebrates,” says Mike.

Quotes Zootastic Paignton! Quotes