Celebrating 50 years of Blackpool Zoo!

"Celebrating 50 years of Blackpool Zoo!

Blackpool Zoo and the site on which it stands has had a long and varied history. 


In 1931 Blackpool Municipal Airport opened on the site, with the former hangar and air traffic control building still being used today as the animal hospital and Education Academy.

At the start of World War 2 it was requisitioned by the RAF and used as a parachute training centre, then 4 hangars were built to assemble and repair Wellington Bombers.

Later it became home for the Royal Lancashire Show and following the closure of the Blackpool Tower menagerie the forward-thinking council had big plans for a 3-phase, 140 acre Zoo development incorporating the new idea of a safari park.  Rising costs, however, mean that the Zoo was never developed from the original 32 acres.

1972 Blackpool Zoo opens

In a blaze of publicity on 6th July, 1972, Blackpool Zoo was opened by Johnny Morris of TV ‘Animal Magic’ fame riding to the zoo on an elephant, accompanied by the Mayor in a Rolls-Royce.  In true Blackpool fashion, it rained all day but the VIP guests enjoyed their day being treated to tours of the zoo and fabulous food.

During the next few decades, several developments were carried out under council ownership including the ever popular Gorilla Mountain and Lemur Wood.  These developments were ahead of their time and were copied by many zoos. 

In April 2003 Grant Leisure Ltd took over the management of the zoo. This resulted in major new development including a new entrance hall opening in 2005 housing a coffee shop, gift shops, lecture theatre and admissions.  The same year also saw Dinosaur Safari open and a display arena. In 2006 a disused water garden was reimagined as Amazonia – a walk-through south American themed exhibit.

In 2007, once again the zoo went into new ownership as Grant Leisure Ltd was acquired by Parques Reunidos, an experienced Spanish leisure company.   This meant more much-needed new developments, starting with the big cat area, the return of giraffes in 2008 and penguins in 2009.  The new Active Ocean sea lion pool and arena opened the following year featuring the ever-popular sea lion display.

A new Children’s Farm opened, followed by Wolf Ridge, Wallaby Walkabout, Wadders and Waddlers, Orangutan Outlook, Rainbow Landings and the biggest single investment to date was the state of the art ‘Project Elephant Base Camp’ opening in 2018. 

Blackpool Zoo, driven by its passionate team, has always had big plans and continues to have big ambitions for future years"

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