Ravine is rescued!

Dudley Zoo’s iconic Bear Ravine enclosure has been officially “rescued” from ruin after a £1.15m renovation project.

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SNOW STUNNING – The remarkable Bear Ravine when the restoration work was close to completion at the start of the year

The pioneering curvy concrete Bear Ravine and nearby Kiosk One, was listed as under threat by Historic England back in 2009.

But today, the day the buildings watchdog published its official Heritage at Risk Register, we’re delighted to report our impressive enclosure is no longer under threat and has been removed from the register.

Zoo Director Derek Grove said: “This is terrific news to officially know we have saved our impressive Bear Ravine and lovingly restored it to its former glory.

“All this has been made possible by the generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and by the commitment, skill and dedication of our Concrete Specialist Carlo Diponio and his team.

“This is a very proud moment for us all at DZG as the unique buildings are a very special part of our wonderful zoo.”

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ABOVE – The Bear Ravine in all its glory when Dudley Zoo opened in 1937

The ravine, which housed bears 30 years ago, was built by Russian architect Berthold Lubetkin and his team between 1935 and 1937. It is considered by experts to be the most impressive Tecton within the collection of 12 structures which use a specialist system of reinforced concrete.

DZG has the world’s largest single collection of Tecton structures, which were granted World Monuments Fund status in 2009, ranked alongside such world-famous landmarks as Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal.

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ABOVE – Lubetkin’s Bear Ravine in 1970

1_websnowravine_2Heritage Lottery funding has enabled repair work to be carried out for the first time on four of the structures – the Safari Shop, the eye-catching entrance, Bear Ravine and Kiosk One, affording them a new lease of life as part of a multi-million pound makeover.

Dr Sarah Lewis, Heritage at Risk Principal for Historic England in the West Midlands said: “This year’s register gives us the most complete sense of the state of our region’s heritage yet. It shows that we are making progress, but also that the challenge is still significant.”

The Heritage at Risk Register – the annual snapshot of the health of England’s historic environment – lists historic sites across the country that could fall into disrepair.

1_websnowravine_2Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage) is the public body that champions and protects England’s historic places. It looks after the historic environment, providing expert advice, helping people protect and care for it and helping the public to understand and enjoy it.

See DZG’s Carlo Diponio interviewed on BBC Midlands Today this evening on how he and his team carried out their labour of love and saved the Bear Ravine from failing into disrepair