Cromer zoo's new residents

The tree-speckled farmland on the edge of Cromer is currently home to woodpeckers, blue tits, kestrels and frogs.But soon they will be joined by pumas, snakes, piranha fish and flamingos as the town's latest tourist attraction takes shape.

The tree-speckled farmland on the edge of Cromer is currently home to woodpeckers, blue tits, kestrels and frogs.

But soon they will be joined by pumas, snakes, piranha fish and flamingos as the town's latest tourist attraction takes shape.

Work is well under way creating the new Cromer Zoo, which should open in late May or early June nearly 24 years after the last one shut.

Wire enclosures to house big cats, a timber-clad building which will house crocodiles, and café which will overlook a lake and flock of flamingos are emerging from the rolling countryside.

Zoo director Jim Irwin-Davis said the collection of animals was linked to South America, but 99pc of them were coming from other zoos in Britain and Europe.

Wet winter weather in Norfolk and abroad caused some problems, with parts of the site - and a timber forest in Latvia which was due to provide the wood - being too boggy for work.

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But the timber had been obtained from the Northumbrian Kielder Forest instead, and the local land was now drying out and work was catching up.

The zoo, which is owned by Ken Sims of the Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens near Yarmouth, is set to apply for its licence, and has logged a list of about 400 planned animals and 80 species.

They include six types of monkey and five of rodents, including alsatian-sized capiburra, birds ranging from black-necked swans to toucans, and reptiles from snakes and iguanas to cayman crocodiles - which people can walk above on a high-level pathway.

It expects to attract 50,000 visitors a year, which means an average of 50 cars a day, peaking at 300 in summer, with an entrance off Hall Road and exit on to Roughton Road.

More than 1,000 new trees have been planted on the site, helping it to blend into the countryside.

The zoo will employ four keepers, a groundsman, and in the summer, eight retail and support workers.