Black Country Bugle

What to see at the zoo in the postwar years

- By DAN SHAW dshaw@blackcount­

DUDLEY Zoo has been a very popular attraction since it first opened in 1937 and for generation­s of Black Country kids it has provided a first exciting glimpse of some of the world’s most exotic animals. We turn the clock back to the post-war years with this copy of the zoo’s official guide, the fifth edition, published in 1949. It begins with a foreword by the zoo’s chairman E.E. Marsh and vicechairm­an, Geoffrey A. Kohn. Edward Marsh was the son of the zoo’s founder Alfred Marsh, both directors of the sausage and ham makers Marsh and Baxter. It’s no coincidenc­e that the only advert in the guide is for the well-known Brierley Hill firm. In their foreword Marsh and Kohn celebrate recent developmen­ts at the zoo: “During 1948 the number of major exhibits in the zoo increased by 397 in 84 different species and this number will be substantia­lly greater by the end of the current year.” Later, the guidebook says, “At the time of going to press the animal population consists of some 800 exhibits in 175 different species and in addition to these there is an aquarium containing 3,000 exhibits in over 100 different species and a reptiliary with a variable population.” Visitors were free to make their own way around the zoo but the guide suggested a route that avoided climbing all the hills in the “wrong” way and made sure you didn’t miss anything. You can follow this route on the map:

“On entering the zoo through the main turnstile, turn left up the hill past the barbary wild sheep, ravens, vultures and thars.

“Follow the roadway up the hill, leaving the steps on the right and, on reaching the jackal cage, proceed downhill, studying the polar bears, lions, leopards, etc., to be found in the enclosures on the right.

“Carry on in the same general direction, passing an aviary on the right and an enclosure containing warthogs, llamas and deer on the left and continue along this road past another aviary and large monkey enclosure on the right until reaching another aviary on the left.

“Now retrace your steps about 100 yards until reaching a long flight of steps on your left and climb these to the chimpanzee house.

“Leaving the chimpanzee house, again climb the path towards the castle ruins, where, for those in need of refreshmen­t, will be found the moat cafeteria on the right and the castle restaurant on the left, whilst others should walk a little to the right to see the flamingoes, black swans, geese, etc., in part of the castle moat, and then retrace their steps to the sealion pool.

“Those desirous of seeing the castle ruins should cross the bridge over the sealion pool, when they will find themselves in the courtyard, which apart from its own merits, has the castle keep at the far end and the aquarium on the left just prior to reaching the great gate and barbican.

“Do not go through this gate, but again retrace your steps to the sealion pool and turn right and bear to the right along the outside of the castle ruins past that part of the moat which has beavers and various geese and waterfowl on the right and deer, yak, zebras and giant tortoises in enclosures on the left.

“Carry straight on, leaving the great gate and barbican on your right and walk towards the archway in front, leaving the reptiliary on your right, and just before reaching the archway will be found the children’s corner on the left.

“On leaving the children’s corner, go back a few yards and turn right, leaving the pheasant aviary on your left, and continue along the roadway past the elephant house, zebra, camels, yak, deer, peafowl, cranes, wallabies, etc., all of which are on your left, whilst on the right are soay sheep, moufflon, etc., all of which thrive on this very steep bank.

“At the end of this road are some steps which should be climbed and on the right will be found the bird house and opposite it another aviary.

“Now go downhill, leaving the bison on your right and the emus on your left, and on reaching the roadway at the bottom, the miniature railway is in front, the sun bears and sloth bears to your left (a cul-de-sac), whilst to the right along the roadway are the wolves, eagles, huskies, dingoes, etc., on the left and the bear ravine, raccoons and penguins on the right.

“You are now nearly back where you started, and for those who feel that variety is the spice of life they will find a high class amusement park on their left, immediatel­y followed by another cafeteria (fully licensed). That’s that, and we sincerely hope that it has been instructiv­e, enjoyable and not too exhausting.”

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Map of Dudley Zoo in 1949 showing the various animal enclosures
Map of Dudley Zoo in 1949 showing the various animal enclosures
 ?? ?? 1949 guidebook to Dudley Zoo
1949 guidebook to Dudley Zoo
 ?? ?? Meena the elephant at Dudley Zoo
Meena the elephant at Dudley Zoo

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom