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Banham Zoo marks its 50th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 17:42 30 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:55 30 March 2018

Martin Goymour, whose family founded the zoo and is the chief executive of the Zoological Society of East Anglia, feeds some ring-tailed lemurs as the Zoo prepares to celebrate it's 50th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Martin Goymour, whose family founded the zoo and is the chief executive of the Zoological Society of East Anglia, feeds some ring-tailed lemurs as the Zoo prepares to celebrate it's 50th anniversary. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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It started life as a fruit farm with half a dozen aviaries and has evolved into a much-loved centre of conservation.

The 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. One of the Amur tigers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. One of the Amur tigers. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Generations of families have visited the exotic and endangered species at Banham Zoo which is celebrating its 50th year.

Now set in 50 acres and home to more than 2,000 species, it is a far cry from the country retreat Harold Goymour envisioned when he bought the farm.

With no restrictions on the animals people could buy during the 1950s and 1960s, people bought animals which would eventually become too big or dangerous as pets.

The farm became a refuge for these animals and the first to arrive were two Canadian timber wolves, three Australian dingoes and a Himalayan bear.

The 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. Ring-tailed Lemurs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. Ring-tailed Lemurs. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Harold’s son Martin, the chief executive of the Zoological Society of East Anglia of which the zoo belongs, said: “We built up this menagerie of animals and we needed someone to look after them. In order to do that we needed to charge people and so we became Banham Zoo.

“The zoo has evolved and grown over the last five decades and we have moved from a basic pet’s corner up to a serious conservation-driven body which is now a charitable trust.”

A place loved by families in Norfolk and Suffolk and further afield, the zoo maintains its family feel.

Home to many vulnerable and threatened species, Banham and its sister park Africa Alive, in Kessingland, work with numerous conservation charities.

The 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. Maisie Brown and her dad, Tim, feed the goats in the Farm Barn. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. Maisie Brown and her dad, Tim, feed the goats in the Farm Barn. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A variety of activities are being held at the zoo to celebrate the milestone.

A special website has been set up and people can share their memories and pictures of their visits to the zoo over the past five decades. Events including 50 Ways to Save the World and 50 Myths, Mistakes and Misconceptions, are being held throughout the year.

Mr Goymour, whose wife Caroline was a primate keeper at Banham, said he was proud of the zoo and the work it has done.

The 67-year-old is due to step down as CEO of ZSEA later this year.

The chimp house at Banham Zoo pictured in the 1970s. It also contained a bird house. Picture: Banham Zoo/ZSEAThe chimp house at Banham Zoo pictured in the 1970s. It also contained a bird house. Picture: Banham Zoo/ZSEA

“We have struggled constantly to achieve the best for our parks,” he said. “The ultimate beneficiaries for everything we do are the animals in our care and conservation.”

Visit the Banham Zoo 50th website to submit your memories.

Banham Zoo during the 1980s. The penguin pool is on the right hand side, the woolly monkey enclosure is on the left and the swan enclousre is directly in front. Picture: Banham Zoo/ZSEABanham Zoo during the 1980s. The penguin pool is on the right hand side, the woolly monkey enclosure is on the left and the swan enclousre is directly in front. Picture: Banham Zoo/ZSEA

The 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. The new Sea Lion Bay. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. The new Sea Lion Bay. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. The one-week-old baby camel and his mother. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. The one-week-old baby camel and his mother. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. One of the snow leopards up on the enclosure roof. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. One of the snow leopards up on the enclosure roof. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Banham Zoo. The new Sea Lion Bay.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYBanham Zoo. The new Sea Lion Bay. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. A Scarlet Ibis. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. A Scarlet Ibis. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Banham Zoo. The new Sea Lion Bay.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYBanham Zoo. The new Sea Lion Bay. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Banham Zoo.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYBanham Zoo. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

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