Work will begin on an ambitious new development at Paignton Zoo this year, which will incude the start of phase one of the new Savannah area.

The zoo is run by The Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust. The charity, which also runs Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, is preparing for a ‘cautious and controlled 2017’.

Executive Director Simon Tonge said there will also be a new exhibit at Newquay Zoo and refurbishments at Living Coasts.  The first phase of work on the new Savannah area at Paignton Zoo will start in autumn 2017.

Savannah at Paignton Zoo

“It has been delayed as much as anything by the economic and political uncertainty that’s come out of 2016. We have been discussing what we do in detail and have some exciting ideas. We are now costing everything and have been building uppaignton zoo logo savannah financial reserves in the meantime, ” said Tonge.

Other developments at Paignton Zoo this year will include new habitats for the Zoo’s gibbons and lemurs,  new boilers in the Ape Centre and a new ultrasound machine for the vet team.

On the Savannah project, the Paignton Zoo is currently working on the detailed design of the public areas with Kay Elliott Architects, a Torquay-based architecture firm.  The company designed Living Coasts,  Monkey Heights and Crocodile for the zoo.

Mr Tonge said the trust will keep an eye on the political and economic situation in Zimbabwe. This is because the Zoo has a conservation partnership with the country’s Dambari Wildlife Trust.

The trust has conservative estimates for total visitor numbers for 2017.  They project 129, 000 at Living Coasts and 448, 000 at Paignton Zoo. Both figures are a slight decrease on last year’s numbers.

Image: Sumatran Tiger at Paignton Zoo, Nilfanion CC.

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