Noah's News Blog
Celebrating Our 15th Anniversary
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm opened for its first full season in 1999, so it seems our 15th anniversary is an appropriate time to tell you a little bit more about the zoo’s fascinating history and deep-founded roots.
The national award-winning, 110-acre zoo is now known for being home to some of the most amazing and exotic animals in the world, including Bengal Tigers, Giraffes, and Elephants. As well as this, kids love the exciting indoor and outdoor adventure playgrounds, inviting café and popular tractor rides. But it hasn’t always been the spectacle that it is today.
Noah’s Ark is built on the site of Moat House Farm and, together with his wife Christina, Anthony Bush was a tenant dairy farmer here for 35 years until 1995, when the couple bought the farm from their Landlord – Lord Wraxall of Tyntesfield.
They went on to rebuild the old farm buildings, and decided to open a themed animal park where visitors could appreciate nature and also be reminded of where their food really comes from, as it is only by knowing this that we can appreciate what we consume and the important history of farming in the UK. The Bush’s hope was also to freshly present the ancient tradition of God’s relationship with mankind, and of the contemporary science that points to creation plus evolution of species. The zoo is described by Anthony as a place where visitors can feel they have “scientific permission to believe in God”, in an age where religion is being side-lined, mostly in science discussion.
When Noah’s Ark opened its doors fifteen years ago, the main attractions were farm animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs and goats. It wasn’t until the start of the millennium that the building work really got underway, including brand new indoor and outdoor play areas and the world’s longest hedge maze, amongst other attractions.
2005 saw the first of the big zoo animals arrive: two South African white rhinos. Next came Gerald the giraffe, two endangered siamang gibbons, tapirs, zebras and ostriches – along with other amazing species.
Our ten year anniversary was celebrated in 2009 with the birth of a baby Tapir named Troy – a birth that was watched by people all over the world on live webcam. The zoo also received media attention when our Bengal Tigers arrived, as well as when we welcomed our three African lion cubs and our first female giraffe, Genevieve – a girlfriend for Gerald. In 2012, our first baby giraffe, George, was born.
Our Elephant Eden, the largest exhibit we’ve ever constructed, was ready after five years of planning in 2013, and our first African Elephant , Buta, finally arrived in February 2014, followed by the recent arrival of our first bull elephant, Janu, in October.
We are extremely proud of what we have achieved here at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm and are excited about what the future holds. There are exciting plans afoot to make important improvements to our play areas, provide indoor heating and bring more impressive animal species for you to learn about and enjoy. Come and celebrate our 15 year anniversary with us by paying a visit to our wonderful zoo.
If you would like to read more about the history of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, pick up a copy of Anthony Bush’s autobiography ‘From Cows to Tigers: Building Noah’s Ark’, either at the gift shop or online.
A History of the Zoo
While modern zoos are almost unrecognisable compared to zoos of the past, the history of the zoo can actually be dated back to Ancient Egypt – around 3,000 years ago. Back then, animals were used to show the wealth and power of a ruler, with pharaohs demanding wild animals be captured on their behalf.
It wasn’t until the age of exploration in the 15th century that exotic specimens, particularly from tropical regions, were collected by explorers when travelling around the world. This resulted in zoos being set up in capital cities in the west in order to, once again, competitively demonstrate their status and power by the size and grandeur of their zoo.
These zoos were actually exhibits that, by today’s standards, seem abhorrently cruel. However, the people who ran these zoos had no concept of conservation; they viewed the natural world as something that was inexhaustible.
London was a prime example of a city that showcased an eclectic range of animals, much to the amazement of its visitors. A polar bear, elephant, monkeys, lions and baboons were all common sightings, not in a zoo, but in the Tower of London. The Royal Menagerie at the Tower began back in 1251 with King Henry VIII’s white bear – a gift from the King of Norway.
This tradition continued for around 600 years, with lions being one of the most symbolic animals of the Tower. In fact, King John was so proud of his lions that he named one of the buildings ‘Lion Tower’. Even now they are part of England’s identity and a national emblem. We are also extremely proud of our amazing lions here at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm.
Of course, there was no real knowledge of how dangerous these animals could be, and it wasn’t until the early 1820s, after numerous attacks on visitors, that the Duke of Wellington demanded the Menagerie to be closed. The animals were transported to Regent’s Park as the first collection of London Zoo species, whilst others were shipped to America or joined travelling circuses.
It was only after World War II that zoos began to take on their modern form, and those running them started to realise the importance of conservation. Facilities were set up, including research departments, and educational staff were hired to spread the message of conservation to the public. This new attitude towards zoo management has led to more appropriate environments for zoo animals, and extensive and on-going research means we can provide more and more suitable habitats and experiences in zoos.
Today, zoos play a crucial role in global conservation and sustainability. Our well-designed and spacious zoo here at Noah’s Ark means we can help protect animals which are unable to be released back into the wild. We are honoured to be able to provide a safe home for endangered species – from our Bengal Tigers to our Lemurs. Visitors can also support our conservation efforts by adopting an animal today.
Which Animal Matches Your Personality?
When you’re strolling through Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, you may notice certain animals have certain personality traits. Getting up-close to these fascinating species will give you unparalleled access to their day-to-day lives. But have you ever wondered which animal is most like you? Take a look at the following descriptions to see if any of these characteristics ring true:
Lions are known for being noble, courageous creatures. They move with dignified grace and have an undeniable presence, turning heads wherever they go. They are also dependable and predictable – you always know where you stand with a lion. They spend much of the day inactive, often resting for around 20 hours a day. Socialising usually takes places after dusk. Although they can be dramatic and commanding at times, they’re still pussycats at heart. Come and see our gorgeous African Lions (Zulu, Masai, Arusha and Wilma) in the flesh.
Tigers are super confident, powerful animals; they’re majestic and they know it. There’s a sense of immediacy that surrounds a tiger, and when they find their groove, they tend to focus on their goal until it’s achieved. Tigers are completely unique – no two tigers have exactly the same stripes. They are also known to have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality, in the wild they often gorge and then don’t eat for several days. Noah’s Ark is home to two beautiful Bengal Tigers, Tiana and Khan.
Elephants have an imposing physical presence and exude calm and confidence in everything they do. They have an extremely kind and spiritual demeanour and are incredibly intellectual. In fact, African Elephants are amongst the world’s most intelligent species. They are emotional, sensitive creatures and are very caring and compassionate with a great sense of humour. And let’s not forget… they have a fantastic memory! Come and say hello to our clever giants, Buta and Janu.
Snakes are clever reptiles, with a tendency to use their defence mechanism when they come across something they don’t like (they curl into a tight ball with their heads hidden inside, often not moving for long periods of time). If you like to keep a low profile and are shy and insecure with a quick temper, perhaps you are most like a snake? Come and meet our Royal Pythons, Rupert and Ruby.
Although Meerkats are the perfect snack for predators, they are very loyal animals and always look out for the rest of their ‘mob’ or ‘gang’ – they will not accept threats to the security of their adorable offspring, and one meerkat will always ‘stand guard’ while the others are feeding or sleeping. They are very social animals and enjoy being in the company of others.
Giraffes are elegant and dainty animals, moving with confidence and grace. The giraffe is the tallest of all mammals, with many growing up to 20 feet high. Their long necks (which can be up to 6 foot 7 inches in length) offer protection as they are able to see very far. If you’re quiet and laid-back, but you stick your neck out for others and keep your eye on what’s around the corner, perhaps a giraffe best matches your personality. Pay a visit to our Giraffes, all beginning with G: Gerald, Genevieve, George and Geoffrey.
There are plenty of other Amazing Animals here at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm – come and see which of their personality traits match yours!