Zoo family just keeps growing

VIDEO With new arrivals aplenty and an extension to both Colchester Zoo and its partnered nature reserve in South Africa, our region's favourite zoo has had an eventful year.

WITH new arrivals aplenty and an extension to both Colchester Zoo and its partnered nature reserve in South Africa, our region's favourite zoo has had an eventful year.

In our third review of 2006, LISA WOOLLARD looks back over a year of cute cuddly creatures - and dangerous dragons - at the East Anglian attraction.

HIS trunk swung wildly, as Jambo the bull elephant eagerly greeted feature editor Tracey Sparling who visited him in March.

Tracey spent the day at the elephant enclosure, and reported that Jambo plonked both fore feet on the top of the 6ft steel gates before trotting around his pen behind head trainer Claire Bennett. At the age of two the elephant already weighed more than 31 stone at the time of the visit and he was certainly keen to strut his stuff.

Later on that month, a female Timber wolf joined the zoo's inhabitants and moved in with the existing two males, Nelson and Wilfy, in The Heights Zone. The seven-year-old wolf came from Howletts Zoo, in Kent, in the hope she would breed with one of the males and there would be wolf pups.

In April Rushmere St Andrew resident Mark Lusher photographed a double-headed ostrich on his visit to the zoo. Mr Lusher, of Seckford Close, was visiting the zoo with his nine-year-old son, Aidan, and girlfriend Beth Cowham when he spotted the opportunity to capture this picture which we loved. Of course it actually shows two ostriches walking in opposite directions!

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In May, zookeeper Hayley Potter returned from a two week trip to the arctic as part of her role as an ambassador for climate change. Ms Potter later gave a talk at the zoo about her experiences in Greenland at the World Environment Day.

There was a new kid on the block at the zoo in June with the arrival of a Rocky Mountain Goat following a natural mating between the zoo's resident pair, Polar and Merlin. The new arrival was the first time a Rocky Mountain Goat had been born at the zoo which at the time was the only zoo in England where visitors could see them.

In July the zoo turned into a dragon's den with the arrival of two Komodo Dragons. I reported on the story when Mutu and Keli moved into their £900,000 enclosure after a ten-year project to get the creatures at the zoo. In August a new enclosure opened for spider monkeys in the former sea lion area of the zoo.

The spider monkey exhibit houses Colchester Zoo's second group of spider monkeys and is led by dominant male Stumpy.

In August we met the owners of the zoo, and asked why they started it, at a time when zoos were causing controversy nationally. They also told of their work at a partner wildlife reserve in South Africa.

In September twin golden-headed lion tamarins were born at the zoo giving a boost to its conservation scheme.

The species, which is native to the Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil, feed on fruit and insects and were born to proud parents Samuel and Nala.

In October the zoo completed its Save The Rhino campaign to raise £25,000.

The campaign, which a number of European zoos were involved in, took place in conjunction with EAZA the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria and money raised went to supporting two important rhino conservation projects in the wild including one at the zoo's nature reserve in Umphafa.

In November three cute cheetah cubs were born at the zoo to resident female cheetah, Uria, and male, Bruno. It was the first litter of cheetah cubs born at the zoo and they made great film for our website at www.eveningstar.co.uk.

WEBLINK: www.colchester-zoo.co.uk.


Tomorrow read the waterfront story about how the area has transformed during 2006.