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Zoo sticks its neck out for new herd

PUBLISHED: 08:00 16 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:01 22 October 2010

A Norfolk zoo is hoping to get the go-ahead for a £500,000 project which would see giraffes roaming the county's countryside.

A Norfolk zoo is hoping to get the go-ahead for a £500,000 project which would see giraffes roaming the county's countryside.

Banham Zoo, near Attleborough, has submitted plans to Breckland Council to build a giraffe house as part of a major scheme that would also see the construction of a new house for its existing zebra herd.

Its sister site, Africa Alive at Kessingland, near Lowestoft, has kept giraffes for a number of years and zoo director Martin Goymour said the idea to introduce them at Banham had been three years in the planning.

“This is something we've have been considering for some length of time and giraffes are a particular favourite of mine. We keep them at our sister park and have kept them very successfully for 12 years.

“We're not interested in expanding the zoo for the sake of it, but we do have a suitable area of land available. We have decided that out of all the things we would add, giraffes would be the most suitable.”

Mr Goymour said they intended register with the giraffe stud book and having them at both sites would be beneficial for managing and exchanging stock.

About 12 giraffes are kept at Africa Alive and the new house at Banham Zoo would take up to 10 or 12.

“The vision is for the giraffe house to be innovative, so that visitors can view them on ground level and at first-floor level,” explained Mr Goymour.

“There would be a raised walkway along the side of the paddock to give a different view and be more interesting for visitors. Giraffes are one of the most interesting and unusual animals on this planet and from all accounts are one of the favourite animals for visitors.”

The new zebra house will accommodate the zoo's herd of Grevy's zebras, the largest of all the zebras and an endangered species. The zoo currently has four but the new house could hold up to 15.

The plan is to have the giraffes and zebras grazing together, with between five and 10 acres available for them to roam across.

“We're also trying to make it visually different and stunning from the visitors' perspective,” said Mr Goymour. “It's possibly the most expensive dual project that we will have done at one time. It has taken a long time and required an awful lot of thought. We hope that Breckland supports us and gives the planning permission. It's a natural progression for the zoo and I am looking forward to seeing giraffes running around the Norfolk countryside.”

If given planning permission by Breckland Council, work will start in the autumn. While it could take up to two years to complete the project, the zoo hopes to get giraffes on site next year.


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