Zoo marks half century of education
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is marking 50 years of formal education.
And in that time it is thought that as many as two million local children have passed through the conservation charity's doors.
Education Officer Rob Lovell said: "We want to use this anniversary to raise awareness for our mission. Herbert Whitley, who founded Paignton Zoo, had a keen interest in education - it has always been a key part of our work."
When the first full-time Education Officer - J I Menzies - was appointed in 1961 there was no education centre and no classroom. Mr. Menzies, who previously worked in Sierra Leone, had to teach classes in the grounds.
Head of Education Rob Lovell, who joined Paignton Zoo in 1976, added: "We have come a long way in 50 years. In 1967 the Zoo was visited by 5,000 pupils and in 1968 7,000. Today we have around 45,000 a year. The Zoo has an education team of 14 and an Education Centre with classrooms and resources for everyone from under fives to post-sixteen students.
"We would love to hear from students who came to Paignton Zoo in those early years - especially if they were inspired to follow wildlife-related careers. We would also like to invite people to send us any photos of Paignton Zoo from the early 1960s."
There will be a series of events through the year to mark the anniversary, culminating in a special day in September for invited schools.
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 0844 474 2222.
Philip Knowling, Paignton Zoo Environmental Park Press Officer, 01803 697568
Paignton Zoo is a member of the British & Irish Association of Zoos & Aquariums (BIAZA). BIAZA represents its member collections and promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums. For further information please telephone 020 7449 6351.