Nostalgia: Looking back at photos from a lost Norfolk zoo

A tiger at the old Cromer Zoo on Howard's Hill in 1979.

A tiger at the old Cromer Zoo on Howard's Hill. Date: June 13, 1979. - Credit: Archant Library

It was a brilliant spring day in 1962. The sun shone down as world-famous entertainer Coco the clown cut a blue ribbon and 3,000 people surged into Cromer Zoo at Howard's Hill.

Coco - real name Nicolai Poliakoff OBE - was lending a helping hand at the opening ceremony for his daughter Olga Kerr and her husband Alexander who were the proprietors of the new attraction.

Coco the clown and Ian Hendry at Cromer Zoo for its opening day in 1962

After opening Cromer Zoo, Coco made friends with a chimpanzee. Actor and TV personality Ian Hendry looks on from behind. Date: March 26, 1962. - Credit: Archant Library/Local Recall

Mrs Olga Kerr, owner of the Cromer Zoo, with her daughter Francine in 1977

Mrs Olga Kerr, owner of the Cromer Zoo, with her daughter Francine. Date: June 29, 1977. - Credit: Archant Library

The first visitors were greeted by exotic wildlife including South American tree bears, tropical birds, a leopard, a llama and a pipe-smoking chimpanzee named Billy who also smoked cigarettes donated by visitors. 

Marjorie the elephant at Cromer Zoo in 1968

Marjorie the elephant at Cromer Zoo enjoys some hay donated by the public following an appeal. Date: 1968. - Credit: Archant Library

Marjorie the elephant begs for a treat from Alexander Kerr at Cromer Zoo in 1968. 

Open wide! Marjorie the elephant begs for a treat from Alexander Kerr at Cromer Zoo. Date: April 23, 1968. - Credit: Archant Library/Local Recall

For the next twenty-one years Olga ran Cromer Zoo - Alexander died in 1970 but her children Alexis, Francine and Roderick helped out over the years.

New arrivals at Cromer Zoo. Date: August 11, 1980.

New arrivals at Cromer Zoo. Date: August 11, 1980. - Credit: Archant Library

A monkey with her baby at Cromer Zoo in 1979

A monkey with her baby at Cromer Zoo. Date: June 13, 1979. - Credit: Archant Library

New attractions came and went but low visitation in the winters and the high costs of feeding and caring for the animals eventually took their toll.


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Cromer Zoo closed in 1983 - gradually all the animals were rehomed soon after but some had to be put down. 

After giving up the zoo, Olga ran holiday properties and then filled her days with family time and voluntary work particularly for the Red Cross - she died in 2015. 

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One of the bears and a dog fox at Cromer Zoo in 1968

Left: one of the bears at Cromer Zoo makes short work of an ornage. Right: Alexander Kerr intended to release this full-grown fox on the Scottish border but his daughter Francine, then 16, had other ideas and it stayed with them at the zoo. Date: April 23, 1968. - Credit: Archant Library/Local Recall

Cromer Zoo wallabies, 20th May 1978. Picture: Archant Library

Cromer Zoo wallabies. Date: May 20, 1978. - Credit: Archant Library



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