Zoo Director Derek Grove is counting down to Christmas and looking forward to exciting new projects for the year ahead.
With just five days to go, the boss of the 40-acre attraction (pictured above) said there had been many highlights throughout the year and even more plans to look forward to in 2016.
He said: “With the end of the year in sight, it’s not only a time for reflection but also a time to plan for the future. Despite the unpredictable weather over the main summer holidays, we were delighted to see visitors numbers have met expectations. We are incredibly grateful to the loyal people who support the zoo and the conservation work we do in all weathers.
“The new Castle Creatures exhibit has proved hugely popular amongst visitors with numbers of Egyptian fruit bats and black rats significantly increasing over the summer. Staff were delighted to welcome home Jetpur, the male Asiatic lion who arrived back at Dudley after a 10 year vacation in Mulhouse, France. It has also been a long time since we reared a Bactrian camel calf at the zoo but with assistance of some supplementary feeding and much dedication by our keepers, Fergie has now chosen to fully return to the care of her mother.
“After several years of disturbance for visitors and staff, we are coming to the end of our infrastructure projects that have significantly enhanced the route on to site. We are extremely pleased with the outcome of these projects which have helped transform the four listed Tecton structures, shop, site roads, cottage, Castle Creatures exhibit, car park and entrance route.
“For many years we have funded native species conservation outreach but from next year we plan to increase our involvement with local wildlife groups to improve local habitats for native species both on and off site.
“We would like to wish all our supporters and very happy and healthy 2016 as we look forward to an exciting year ahead.”
EXCITING FUTURE INTERESTING PAST
The zoo will be making headlines in the New Year as we plan to enhance some enclosures and bring people even closer to some of the world’s rarest animals.
But back in 1936, news of its creation were in the press too.
Thanks to the local nostalgia newspaper the Black Country Bugle for recently discovering a story about the zoo being built in a publication on board the Cunard Liner RMS Lancastria on April 16, 1946.
Bugle reader Sylvia Keeling, from Pelsall, was leafing through the old copy of the Ocean Times, which was published on board the White Starr liner, when she was flabbergasted’ to read a Dudley story in the cruise edition as it sailed the Mediterranean.
The story read: “The grounds of historic Dudley Castle are being turned into an elaborate zoo by Lord Dudley. Sea lions will be kept in the castle moat and wolves and bears will live in the cavern labyrinth. The precipitous slopes of the hill on which the castle stands will make terraces for mountain sheeps and goats.
“The penguin pool will have a glass passage along the bed of the pool to enable visitors to watch the activities of the birds under the water. The collection of water-fowl will be one of the finest in existence. Cafes and restaurants will be provided. “
And it all came about the following year, when Dudley Zoological Gardens opened in 1937.