We are a Charity!
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm has announced that it has become a charity on 5th April 2023 marking the start of a new era for the popular, award-winning zoo.
The Zoo first opened its gates to the public 25 years ago with a trial season and the first visitors enjoyed a variety of fun farm activities like bottle feeding lambs, tractor rides and playing in the straw den along with meeting farm animals and a few exotics like wallabies and llamas.
The farm attraction soon became a favourite with visitors from Bristol, North Somerset and beyond and it quickly grew in scale and popularity adding an ever more exciting range of zoological species including Rhinos, Giraffes, Lions, Spectacled Bears and African Elephants. Set in over 100 acres of beautiful countryside Noah’s Ark has been able to create large enclosures based on modern best practices. The Elephant habitat is the largest in the UK and recognised as world leading in its scale and facilities.
Founders, Anthony and Christina Bush were dairy farmers for 40 years before selling the cattle herd and starting the new animal attraction at the farm. They have welcomed over 3 million visitors to Noah’s Ark during the past 25 years and the couple’s vision for the attraction to be a place for people to feel connected to nature, to have fun and be refreshed and to learn through inspiring experiences will be embedded in the aims of the charity.
The Zoo is now run by the couple’s son, Larry Bush, who has been the Zoo Director since 2019 and he has been leading the transition to the Zoo becoming a charity for the past three years. Larry Bush said “the gaining of charity status will be hugely beneficial for the long-term future of the Zoo, its conservation and education programmes, its visitors, the community, and staff. Visitors can also enjoy the knowledge that their admission directly funds the vital conservation work of the charity in the UK and around the world.”
The Zoo now has over 100 species of animals including several species classified as ‘endangered’ or ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List, including African elephants, Andean bears, Siamang gibbons and White rhino. In addition, the Zoo has a strong focus on native conservation including the conservation of native Farm Animals and in 2022 received their Rare Breeds Survival Trust accreditation. The Rare Farm Breeds program at Noah’s Ark aims to support the survival of rare breed British Farm animals for future generations.
In addition to its large animal collection and conservation programme Noah’s Ark welcomes over 20,000 school visits each year and does outreach visits to schools, care homes and holiday clubs throughout the area.
During the past 5 years the Zoo has also become known for its excellence as an accessible and inclusive attraction and has invested in facilities such as a Changing Places toilet and inclusive play areas as well as providing training for staff. This has recently been recognised with a prestigious Gold award for Inclusive and Accessible Tourism at the South West Tourism Awards on 30th March 2023.
As well as being a conservation zoo, Noah’s Ark aims to be a place to enrich people and enhance their wellbeing and this is an additional aim of the new charity. Larry Bush said “Connecting with nature, getting up close to animals, learning in fun and immersive ways and enjoying play together – these all improve your wellbeing. We see this as an exciting aim of our charity and we’re looking to find even more ways to benefit our visitors and our local community. We feel strongly that this naturally compliments our conservation and education aims.”
To mark the momentous occasion of becoming a charity, the Zoo has opened a new exhibition about their story. The exhibition brings to life the aims of the charity and its hopes for the future. The new Zoo exhibition is fun and interactive providing sensory experiences as well as being fully accessible.