Noah's News Blog

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.

Rhinos2_Noah's Ark

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.

Giraffe (36)

There are plenty of other Amazing Animals here at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm – come and see which of their personality traits match yours!

African Elephants Janu and Buta are officially introduced at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm

The second phase of the ground-breaking Elephant Eden project gets off the ground at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm as African Elephant Janu was officially introduced to current Eden resident, Buta, on 1st October.

Lively 9-year-old bull elephant Janu arrived at Noah’s Ark on 4th September and, after an initial settling in period, is now enjoying the company of 29-year-old female, Buta, who has been living at Noah’s Ark since February.

African elephants

African Elephants Janu and Buta

Our £2 million Elephant Eden is the largest elephant habitat in northern Europe at 20 acres (8 hectare) and promotes welfare advances for the care of these complex mammals. Eden boasts extensive grazing areas, sand yards, mud wallows and a state-of-the-art heated elephant barn. The habitat offers a significant space for the elephants to explore, giving them the freedom to walk several kilometres a day.

The vast enriched habitat has been labelled a “five star destination for elephants” by well-known international elephant management consultant Alan Roocroft due to the revolutionary design of the facility.

Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm is open until 20th December before closing for the winter, so there are still plenty of opportunities for a day ticket visit ( to see these magnificent animals up close!

Buta and Janu

The meeting of the two elephants Janu and Buta (on loan from Port Lympne Reserve in Kent and Knowsley Safari Park in Merseyside respectively) marks the beginning of the crucial establishment of the new herd at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm which will provide for the complex social needs of each elephant. Did you know that you too can contribute to their care with one of our Elephant Adoption Gift Boxes (

The pair will be followed by Kruger, a mature bull elephant who will also on a temporary loan arrangement with Knowsley Safari Park, at a later date. The decision to move the elephants to Noah’s Ark was agreed by all parties with the welfare and long term future of each animal the primary focus.

The elephants are being cared for by three keepers, led by our highly-experienced Head Elephant Keeper, Sandra de Rek. Sandra relocated to Bristol after more than 12 years working closely with elephants in the UK and the USA.

Thanks to their efforts and care, Elephant Eden has proved to exceed beyond all expectations in creating a new standard for elephants. If you want to experience what it could be like to be an animal keeper, why not look at one of our Zoo Keeper Experience packages and get a taste first-hand? (

Mr Roocroft, well known for his work with European and American zoos in supporting improvements for elephant keeping, has advised Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm through the design, build and running of the project. He recently said of Noah’s Ark:

“You have raised the bar for elephant keeping around the world … and some.”

“The best five star destination for elephants anywhere? Probably!”

Visitors to the zoo will be able to see Janu and Buta together at Elephant Eden this week, with the Elephant House being open as usual. For more information about Janu, Buta and Elephant Eden please visit the Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm website or call 01275 852606. Don’t forget, we also cater for School Trips ( and offer Zoo Outreach workshops ( too.

Buta Janu_Noahs Ark2