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Banham Zoo marks 50 years with late-night birthday bash

PUBLISHED: 09:41 13 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:13 13 July 2018

Banham Zoo animal keeper Lucas Atkinson with one of their Lemurs. 
Picture: Antony Kelly

Banham Zoo animal keeper Lucas Atkinson with one of their Lemurs. Picture: Antony Kelly

Archant Norfolk 2017

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Banham Zoo hosts a special late-night opening birthday event this weekend.

Martin Goymour, whose family founded the zoo prepares to celebrate it's 50th anniversary. Picture: Denise BradleyMartin Goymour, whose family founded the zoo prepares to celebrate it's 50th anniversary. Picture: Denise Bradley

The zoo’s once-a-year family evening will be extra special on Saturday, from 6pm-10.30pm – re-christened the Zoo-Do Birthday Bash to mark the landmark anniversary.

It promises to be a feast of entertainment, raising funds for wildlife conservation. Expect live music, classic car display and parade around the zoo, performances by the The Mighty Zulu Nation Theatre Troupe and more. Not to mention the chance to see the animals.

Banham started life as a fruit farm with half a dozen aviaries and has evolved into a much-loved centre of conservation.

The 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. One of the cheetahs. Picture: Denise BradleyThe 50th anniversary of Banham Zoo. One of the cheetahs. Picture: Denise Bradley

Now set in 50 acres and home to more than 2,000 species, it is a far cry from the country retreat Harold Goymour envisioned when he bought the farm only for it to become a refuge for animals that had become too big or dangerous for people to keep as pets. The first to arrive were two Canadian timber wolves, three Australian dingoes and a Himalayan bear.

“In 1968, we started to charge entry to see the animals – 2/6d and 1s (12.5p and 5p) – which helped to pay for an animal keeper and manager,” said Martin Goymour, who now looks after two sites with his staff of up to 200 as well as an army of volunteers. Next year, Africa Alive! at Kessingland, near Lowestoft, the second strand of the ZSEA, will also be 50.

There were 12,000 visitors at Banham in 1968; it’s now an average 200,000 who come and see 2,000 animals from around the world in 50 acres.

Sea Lion Bay at Banham Zoo.
 Picture: Antony KellySea Lion Bay at Banham Zoo. Picture: Antony Kelly

This weekend’s event will also include Carnival Corner, the chance to dress up in 1960s costumes, from the period the zoo opened, party games and more.

Entry is £15, under-15s £9, under-3s free, and free entry to annual and 2 Year Pass holders. More details at Banham Zoo


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