Now the summer crowds have died down, this is the ideal time of year to make a trip to Blackpool Zoo. The zoo has a long and interesting history and was opened in 1972 by ‘Animal Magic’ presenter Johnny Morris. Johnny made a grand entrance to the zoo on the back of an elephant, accompanied by the mayor of the time in a Rolls Royce! The zoo was originally home to 2 Asian elephants, 2 giraffes, gorillas, sea lions, chimps, orang-utans, lions and 2 giant tortoises.
In 2006 the unique experience of ‘Amazonia’ was launched – this allows visitors to sample life in the rainforest among such creatures as squirrel monkeys, marmosets and toucans as well as many species of parrots.
Last year saw the arrival of ‘Wolf Ridge’, a huge wooded enclosure which is home to a pack of Iberian wolves. Future developments include plans for a new orang-utan house as well as renovation and expansion of the gorilla house. One of the biggest attractions at the zoo is the sea lion pool, which is the same pool that was present when the zoo first opened, although it has undergone dramatic transformation since then.
What was once a dull, concrete area is now a glass fronted, 250 seat arena that allows amazing views of these beautiful and intelligent animals. The Californian sea lions that live here are very playful and love learning and interacting. The trainers at the zoo work with the sea lion’s natural behaviours to encourage them to follow their requests – whenever they get something right they are rewarded with a fish! As well as the sea lions, the active ocean area of the zoo is also home to the magnificent Magellanic penguins. The enclosure is above ground level and allows visitors to view the penguins swimming underwater. These are the only Magellanic penguins in the UK and arrived in Blackpool in 2009 from Madrid Zoo.
If larger animals are of more interest then be sure to visit the Elephant House. The Asian elephants have lived at the zoo since the late 1970’s – Kate and the late Crumple arrived from an orphanage in Sri Lanka and were soon joined by Indra and Marcella who were rescued from a bankrupt circus in Europe. The three remaining live happily together and are a magnificent sight. The indoor area of the Elephant House is shared with some smaller but equally interesting creatures – an outstanding collection of reptiles and invertebrates, two tanks of fish, snakes, lizards and cockroaches, to name but a few!