Glasgow Zoo Park
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BACKGROUND TO THE PARK

Glasgow Zoopark's setting in parkland and wooded hills on the banks of the meandering North Calder Water must be almost ideal. Beyond the twenty hectares of the present Zoopark lie another twenty or so surrounding a lochan and a network of new roads awaiting our planned expansion.

Formerly farm land worked by Cistercian monks (hence the name 'Monklands'), the future Calderpark was owned after the Reformation by the wealthy Stewarts of Minto, Lairds of Daldowie. Early in the last century the estate, by now known as Calderpark, was acquired by James McNair, a Glasgow sugar merchant, who built in 1815 what was by all accounts a magnificent mansion. It is likely that he also planted (partly to hide the Calderpark colliery) some of the fine trees seen here today.

The last owner of Calderpark Villa was Thomas Webster, a cattle dealer and merchant, whose grandson has kindly recalled for us the magic the place held for him as a young visitor in the twenties. Peacocks patrolled (then as now!) an estate which included an old walled garden across the river, a newer garden with many greenhouses, an ice house, stables and farmhouses, with the rambling house itself standing near where the tearoom swan pond in the centre of the Zoopark now is.

Sadly, the house itself was demolished in 1931 because of mining subsidence. Eight years later the Calderpark estate was purchased by the Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland , whose inaugural meeting had been held in 1936 in the Zoology Department of Glasgow University. The founding director of the Zoo, Sydney Benson, MBE, opened it to the public in 1947 soon after the war.

The early Zoo was a different place from the Zoopark we see today. Money and building materials were in short supply, so extensive use was made of recycled war materials. Anti-tank blocks, the blocks for mooring barrage balloons, sheet steel from ships dismantled in the Clyde, second-hand wire fence netting, assorted wooden huts, even the wheel-house of a tug, everything was grist to the mill.

In 1972, the first of our special training/employment programmes commenced, when Britain's first Community Industry Programme started work at the Zoo. This was superseded in 1976 by Job Creation and a succession of different programmes under various guises have followed to the present day. Many thousands of West of Scotland residents have received temporary employment and training in this way. In 1987 and again in 1990 the Zoological Society was awarded national Fit for Work Awards for its policies with the disabled. The work of these programmes resulted in extensive landscaping and the construction of over four kilometres of roads and surfacing of the car parks.

Our own fund-raising created the Tropical House, the Adimula Tiger Den, the Alloa Brewery Black Bear House and Enclosures , the small primate house and the new souvenir shop. The Zoological Society also coordinated the fund raising, design and management of the Hugh Fraser Tropicarium , the large butterfly and orchid house at the 1988 Glasgow Garden Festival. This Tropicarium went on to win the Caithness Glass 'Oscar' - the top award - for Innovation, and a Gold Medal in each of the Horticulture, and Science and Technology categories.

Today, Glasgow Zoopark looks forward to an exciting and diverse future with strong links to the local community. Our motto Working for Conservation , sums up our goals and elsewhere you will be able to read about our work in conservation and captive breeding.