Pandas to pythons: A look back at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens over time
- Credit: Archant Library
Norfolk families have been getting up close and personal with exotic creatures for decades.
Since opening in 1979 Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens has been home to the likes of tigers, crocodiles and monkeys.
The site was first opened by Ken Sims after he returned from Malaya where he had been a rubber planter, poisonous snake farmer and a crocodile keeper.
Mr Sims had previously supplied zoos in Europe and America with rare species and spent time at the National Zoo of Malaysia.
And it was through his work that he realised how progressive zoos could play a positive role in helping save species from extinction and led to the design of the wildlife gardens, near the village of Filby.
Generations of families have since been able to enjoy its beautiful grounds as well as close encounters with all of its animals.
Although the gardens have changed over the years, the zoos care for its inhabitants and passion for conservation work has remained the same.
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Today it is home to tigers, snow leopards, red pandas, meerkats, gibbons, otters, alligators, crocodiles, reptiles and birds.
Scott Bird started working at Thrigby in 1998 and was mentored by Mr Sims before took over the title of zoo director.
He said: “I started work at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens shortly after graduating from DeMonfort University Lincoln after studying my degree in Equine Science in the summer of 1998.
"The job was only supposed to be for a couple of months as a pair of hands building their new leopard enclosure.
“Over the years I was mentored by Ken learning about the animals of the park their needs and requirements and also how to deal with the public facing side of the business.
“I have always enjoyed my role at Thrigby as no two days are ever the same.
He added: “When Ken retired from the day-to-day running of the park in 2015, I took over the role of zoo director.
“This role has been challenged by the global pandemic but we are optimistic and looking to the future. We have been humbled by the support this past year.
“I am excited for the future of and plans are underway for the swamp house renovations and redesign of the Tiger enclosure."