On Thursday, 7th November, Darren Webster, Blackpool Zoo’s Director, led members of his team on to the stage to accept the Visit Lancashire top accolade for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year. Six other attractions throughout the county were shortlisted, but Zoo staff were absolutely delighted that the park was chosen as the winner.
The event was held in rather unusual, but very spectacular surroundings in the nave of Blackburn Cathedral. Simon Calder, a leading travel writer, opened the proceedings after a superb dinner, with a very entertaining presentation about his own travels around Lancashire and other areas of the UK as well as overseas.
The ceremony was attended by almost 500 representatives of travel businesses in Lancashire and three other awards came to the resort. Winners in most categories continue through to represent the county in the Visit England Awards in May. Fingers crossed!
The only male baby gorilla ever to be born at Blackpool Zoo turned one year old today – and he celebrated with a mashed potato and rice birthday cake!
The birth of little Moanda, who is the son of resident silverback Bukavu and Njema, was a momentous occasion for the zoo, which is also home to his half-sister Meisie, her mother Miliki and another female Kena.
Since he arrived Moanda has made fantastic progress, moving around independently and cutting his first teeth at six months old.
He can now climb to all the different levels of the Ape House and his favourite foods include marmite and rice, boiled potato, yogurt and, of course, mashed potato!
Keepers made an extra special birthday cake to mark the occasion, which Moanda’s mum wasted no time helping him to eat!
Charlotte Pennie, Senior Primate Keeper at Blackpool Zoo, said: “Moanda is a very special little man indeed and is a crucial part of the European Breeding Programme for Western Lowland Gorillas.
“He is the first male, and only the second baby gorilla, ever to be born at Blackpool Zoo, which is testament to the care given by keepers and the excellent environment here.
“Western Lowland Gorilla numbers have declined over 60 per cent in the past 20 years, which means they are critically endangered in the wild. Breeding programmes are vital to ensure the future survival of such as majestical species.
“Moanda and his half- sister Meisie are firm favourites with our visitors and it has been an absolute pleasure to see the two little ones running round.”
Blackpool Zoo’s Tigertastic Halloween events raised over £2600 for 21st Century Tiger, the charity based at ZSL (London Zoo) which oversees conservation projects for tigers worldwide.
Less than 5000 tigers remain on the planet and drastic steps are needed to protect them. 21st Century Tiger is involved in numerous projects to protect habitats as well as educating people to live in harmony with these majestic big cats. Discouraging poaching and working with governments to eliminate it entirely are also high on the list of priorities.
Activities such as quiz trails, selling clay tiger paw prints, a raffle and tombola all raised funds, but attention was drawn to their plight by passionate tiger supporter and Blackpool Zoo member, Lynne Gorrie, whose head was shaved for sponsorship paid by her friends and visitors to the Zoo. Lynne works tirelessly for her favourite big cats despite disabilities arising from a brain tumour 30 years ago. She says, “Having my head shaved and feeling a bit cold is nothing compared to the suffering of some of the wild tigers which are captured or trapped in snares.”
Hairdresser, Katie Mayor, a senior stylist at Jo and Cass in Preston was full of admiration for Lynne’s brave act. “I’ve been asked to do some odd things in the past, but shaving someone’s head in October in front of a huge, hungry tiger, takes the biscuit!”