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Paignton Zoo staff ‘devastated’ after loss of iconic tree

The botanics team at Paignton Zoo in Devon, UK, say they have been left ‘devastated’ after discovering that one of the zoo’s oldest, champion cherry trees had collapsed on Thursday morning.

PHOTO Gardeners discover fallen tree edited scaled
The iconic tree is believed to have been over 50 years old.

Curator of Gardens, Catherine Mortimer, commented:

“The team were devastated to find the fallen tree this morning. As a veteran tree, we were aware that it was in decline, but were hoping it would bow out gracefully over the course of a few more years.”

The cherry tree, Prunus ‘Daikoku’, was located in the red-necked ostrich paddock. Fortunately, Maisie the ostrich was still sleeping in her off-show den then the collapse happened, and the fence on which the tree fell has thankfully not been damaged in any significant way.

PHOTO Maisie the ostrich under cherry tree credit Miriam Haas edited
Maisie the red-necked ostrich, Struthio camelus camelus, pictured underneath the tree in her paddock (photo by Miriam Haas)

Believed to have been planted in late 60s, the cherry tree is what is known as a hybrid, meaning they are double flowering. Providing striking pink clusters that bloom in mid-spring, the weight of these blooms, in addition to heavy rainfall, may have exacerbated the collapse of the tree.

Catherine continued:

“As sad as we are to have lost the tree, we are already looking at ways to make the most of it. There are a number of animals here at the zoo that enjoy snacking on cherry blossoms, so we will make sure none of it goes to waste.”

Paignton Zoo, which is part of the conservation organisation Wild Planet Trust, is dedicated to protecting both plant and animal species. Paignton Zoo is home to a range of rare and significant plant species, including a collection of native whitebeams and mature specimens of coastal and giant redwoods.

Visitors to the zoo over Easter may have already witnessed some of the animals being treated to an unexpected abundance of fresh cherry blossoms, including the sloths, giraffes and orang-utans. The zoo’s social media team have planned to share some of the videos and photos of their animals enjoying their floral snacks over the coming days.

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