08:20 april 4, 2022
Paradise Wildlife Park will change its name to Hertfordshire Zoo.
The rebranding will be officially launched on the animal park’s 40th anniversary on April 1, 2024.
The name change will mark a new chapter in what was once Broxbourne Zoo, once dubbed “the worst zoo in the UK”.
Thirty-eight years ago you would have found a site very different from today’s animal park, with poor facilities and a lone lion, Bobby, in a cage.
“Bobby was already there when we acquired the site, which at the time was Broxbourne Zoo,” said Peter Sampson, founder of Paradise Wildlife Park.
“And the place at the time, you couldn’t really describe it as a zoo or an animal park. It was more like a junkyard, a dump.”
Now home to more than 800 animals, including penguins, red pandas and Amur tigers, Paradise Wildlife Park has become one of Hertfordshire’s top tourist destinations over the past four decades.
With just two years to go until the park’s 40th anniversary, Peter Sampson said “it’s time for us to look forward and, like the natural world, to evolve”.
He said: “By becoming Hertfordshire Zoo, we want to align ourselves more closely with the wider Hertfordshire community and establish ourselves as a zoo that everyone in our county is proud of.
“We will shine a spotlight on Hertfordshire as a positive beacon for animal welfare, conservation and education.”
Paradise’s conservation work is already reaching a wider national audience through the exploits of brothers Aaron, Tyler and Cam Whitnall on the CBBC show A zoo three.
A PWP spokesperson said Hertfordshire Zoo ‘will be a truly inspiring experience’ and as trusted experts and conservation advocates ‘they want to share the wonder of wildlife with children and adults alike’ .
They added: “Educating our visitors about the positive impact of conservation and highlighting how we can all live a more sustainable way of life is central to our vision for the future.”
The popular White Stubbs Lane wildlife park near Welwyn Hatfield has already seen dramatic changes since 2017, new habitats for animals such as Amazon and beyond and bespoke tiger country, when the world of dinosaurs in 2018. .
New attractions like Dinosaur World, which hosted its latest life-size animatronic prehistoric creatures last week, and the Sun Bear Heights Mixed Species Habitat, which will feature sun bears and binturongs, have all been included. of the first phase of the owners. term master plan.
In the 1960s, the zoo on the current site of Paradise Wildlife Park looked very different.
Broxbourne Zoo, as it was then known, was privately owned by Cyril Stamp until the mid-1970s, then by Peter Phipps until 1984.
The zoo was known for its poor animal facilities and by the early 1980s it was widely regarded and documented as Britain’s worst zoo.
The Sampson family purchased the site on April 1, 1984, and the zoo closed on Christmas Day that year to allow for urgent renovations to comply with the Zoo Licensing Act 1981.
Peter Sampson said: “Most of the animals were in pretty bad shape or in poor facilities.
“You had things like chimpanzees sitting in seats smoking cigarettes. It was entertainment rather than a conservation breeding facility.
“There were also animal rights activists outside the front door.”
Then there was Bobby the lion in his dreadful surroundings.
“I don’t like saying the word cage,” Peter said. “But it was more like a small prison. Maybe 10 to 15 square feet, made out of old scaffolding poles.”
As the operation of the zoo ceased, the buildings on the site were demolished. Improvements have been made to infrastructure, water supply, gas pipes and electricity supply.
This was quickly followed by the relocation of Bobby the lion to a purpose-built enclosure.
Picking up on the story, Peter Sampson said: “The day we moved Bobby and seeing him run free on the grass for the first time, it made us think that’s what we want to do. That’s there you know, we’re going to change our way of life from being a bus company to caring for animals.”
The family’s hard work paid off in July 1985 when East Herts District Council granted a zoo license, and the official reopening of the site under the new name ‘Paradise Park and Woodland Zoo’ took place. at Easter 1986.
The Sampson family sold their ‘Sampson Coaches and Buses’ company in 1989, then sold their MOT test center and garage to allow them to concentrate solely on the management and finances of Paradise Park and Woodland Zoo.
In 1990, the name was changed again to Paradise Wildlife Park to reflect the move towards conservation, environmental education, and larger open enclosures for animals.
The next name change will officially launch on April 1, 2024, as the family charity enters the next phase of its long-term plan, which will see a host of new but sadly endangered species call Hertfordshire Zoo.
Chief Executive Lynn Whitnall said: ‘We hope the local community and park supporters can understand the reasons for this change and we hope you are as excited as we are for what is to come as we continue to grow and evolve as a charity. ”
With less than two years to go, Paradise Wildlife Park, the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire will be posting updates on its website and social media platforms as it prepares for this exciting change not only for the zoo but also for the county.