26th March 1959
Jersey Zoo opens for the first time
Although Gerald Durrell had already spent some time living in Jersey, it was by no means a certainty that he’d open his zoo on the island. When he came across the 32 acres it occupies at Les Augrès Manor, he was living in Bournemouth and his growing collection of animals was also located on the mainland.
Unfortunately, one of the first times it was mentioned in the mainland newspapers was 18 June the same year, when The Guardian reported that a girl had been “taken to hospital yesterday after the nail and top part of her left forefinger were bitten off by a monkey at Jersey Zoo Park. The child, who was on reins, put her finger through the protective wiring”.
The following year it enjoyed more positive coverage when it took in three rattlesnakes that the fighter squadron based at RAF Acklington needed to re-house. The snakes, which had been its emblem, needed a new home when the squadron was disbanded.
Jersey Zoo was established with the stated aim of increasing the populations of rare breeds and, within five years of opening, was appealing for £100,000 to help establish the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust.
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