Suffolk Punches boost zoo's show record

Two extremely rare Suffolk Punch horses have helped Banham Zoo achieve its most successful record for agricultural shows in 20 years.With only 460 pure-bred Suffolk Punch horses left in existence worldwide, the animals are rarer than even the Giant Panda.

Two extremely rare Suffolk Punch horses have helped Banham Zoo achieve its most successful record for agricultural shows in 20 years.

With only 460 pure-bred Suffolk Punch horses left in existence worldwide, the animals are rarer than even the Giant Panda.

To boost numbers of the once-common animal, Banham Zoo has run a successful breeding program for over a decade and also exhibits the horses.

The zoo has 11 Suffolk Punches in total, including two licensed stallions which are used for breeding purposes.


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The four-year-old stallion Bazoo Riley was one of those born at the zoo, and this year won the champion stallion award at both the Norfolk and Suffolk Shows.

Whatton Chiefton, a three-year-old gelding, also had an exceptional year in the show ring, winning first place at Woodbridge and the Suffolk Show and first and Champion Gelding at the Royal Norfolk Show.

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Banham Zoo keeper, Matt Bundock, is a fifth-generation heavy horse worker, and has over 20 years experience with the animals.

'It's a passion, it's not a job,' he said, adding that he counted himself lucky to be able to keep heavy horse traditions going.

'We've got to keep the skills alive, it's as important as keeping the breed alive,' he said.

Mr Bundock admitted that the rare Suffolk Punch breed was 'not out of the woods yet', but that if breeding programs continued as they had been that the animals' future should be secure.

The showing season is now coming to an end, but there is no rest for the team at Banham as they are now preparing for the winter ploughing matches which take place across the region during the months ahead.

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