As we approach the end of our first closure week, we thought we’d update you on what we’ve been up to. Our teams have been incredibly busy and although our zoos are currently empty of visitors, they certainly haven’t been empty of activity.
One of the first things that visitors to Paignton Zoo will notice is the new entrance to what was formerly our Brookside Aviary. Since we closed the boardwalk entrance late last year, Brookside has served as the main entrance and exit in to the zoo. Although this has served us well on quieter days, the pathways through Brookside have felt the pressure when its busy, and we have had to adapt these to ensure our visitors can comfortably use the space. The birds that lived in Brookside have been removed and housed elsewhere around the zoo, and we have decided that birds will not be returning to this area after the entrance is complete. Due to the annual threat of avian influenza (bird flu), we want to make sure that we can safely look after our birds at all times, and having a main visitor pathway running through an aviary impacts our ability to do this. We’re also finalising our plans to remove and replace the boardwalk. This will be a very significant undertaking and will require the removal of the decking that leads to the old Brookside entrance. We look forward to sharing our plans for this new entrance area very soon.
Our Botanics Team have been working tirelessly to spruce up our gardens and beds. As a botanical as well as a zoological garden, our grounds are a source of huge pride and its very much the case that time invested now will be repaid many times over when spring arrives and everything bursts into life. We are making headway on our annual tree maintenance schedule with the sound of chainsaws a regular feature of the day. The Paignton site has a large number of Ash trees which have required removal due to ash dieback disease and the closure period has allowed us to tackle some of the trees located near visitor pathways that would otherwise have been tricky to access.
Elsewhere in the zoo, new signage is being installed, new fences erected and enclosures refurbished. Away from the public areas, our staff have been completing training, carrying out office moves and deep cleaning everything ready for reopening. On any given day, there’s a whole world of activity going on away from the public eye at our zoos, and changes made here will ensure that we are much better placed to give our visitors an even more memorable day out when they visit.
2022 will be a year of real change at Paignton Zoo. These closure weeks are allowing us the time to set the foundations for what’s to come and we’re raring to go to set things in motion for everything we have planned. Thank you for your patience while we prepare for a really exciting build up to our centenary celebrations in 2023!