Glasgow Zoo Park
Glasgowzoo has now closed these pages are for information only


by W.R.S. MacKenzie

Glasgow's Calderpark Zoo opened in July 1947. To mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening, William MacKenzie wrote a series of articles chronicling its sometimes turbulent history. The articles first appeared in successive issues of Calderpark Zoolife magazine during 1973 and 1974. At the time of writing the articles William MacKenzie was Vice-President of the Zoological Society. He became President in 1974, retiring from office in 1997.

In the quarter-century which has elapsed since these articles were first published there have been many changes to the Zoo. In particular, a number of buildings have been adapted for different species. All footnotes were added in 1998 to explain these changes.

  • Setting the Scene
  • The Zoological Society is Formed
  • Glasgow Zoo - searching for a site
  • Calderpark estate purchased
  • Zoo's use of ex-war materials
  • The zoo's original animals
  • Opening Day for Glasgow Zoopark: 09th July 1947
  • Camlachie Public School - first school to support the zoo
  • Film Stars support early zoo additions
  • Major early donations to animal stock
  • First Tropical House developed
  • Escapes from the Zoo
  • Tiger Killed During Escape
  • Financial and material shortages
  • White Knight for the Zoo
  • Glasgow Council again rejects offer to take over zoo
  • New Polar Bear Den collapses
  • New Buildings: Tropical House, lion enclosure, cat house
  • Nocturnal House developed
  • The Barless Zoo Begins to Takes Shape
  • First Education Officer Appointed
  • Kirsty the elephant on walk-about
  • 1. Setting the Scene

    Phineas T. Barnum was America's - some would say the world's - greatest showman. 1973 was the centenary of the arrival in Scotland of the man described as The British Barnum - E.H. Bostock. A remarkable showman who later became Town Councillor for the Cowcaddens Ward of Glasgow, Bostock's promotions included circuses, music halls, dancing, roller-skating and wrestling. Our interest is principally in his being the instigator of the first zoo in the West of Scotland. This, however, was not until 12th May 1897 when he opened The Scottish Zoo and Variety Circus in the Olympia (afterwards known as the Zoo Building), New City Road, Glasgow. [ 1 ]

    Bostock's first visit to Glasgow had been in the winter of 1874, when Bostock and Wombwell's Travelling Menagerie exhibited first in High Street, then in North Street. In spite of having to ask for police protection, ' against hooliganism ', he was not put off the West of Scotland. Indeed, in later years a winter visit to Glasgow became an annual event.

    Bostock had many adventures - as well as problems with his animals. Elephants featured considerably in this life. In the early winter of 1884 he decided to take his menagerie into the Highlands. None had been there for over twenty-five years. Emulating Hannibal's epic journey with elephants over the Alps Bostock had an elephant with him. It had cost 450. Approaching Dalwhinnie the animal took ill and collapsed. Things looked serious. Always resourceful, Bostock forced half a bottle of brandy, ' kept for emergencies ', down the elephant's throat. In half an hour, the beast was back on its feet and walked into Dalwhinnie to the delight of the patrons.

    A spectacular end was experienced by Sir Roger, a large male Indian elephant. A normally tractable animal, as he matured he became subject to musth, a condition of male elephants during the breeding cycle. Sir Roger became completely unmanageable, attacking his keeper. No one could enter to clean out his quarters or even to feed him properly. He was a potential danger to visitors, and in December 1900 a team of soldiers was called into the Zoo to act as a firing squad. This was not the end of Sir Roger. You can see him today in the Art Galleries and Museum at Kelvingrove.

    The Scottish Zoo Building covered over an acre of ground, about half being occupied by the animal cages. The remainder housed at various times circuses, variety acts and roller-skating. For a description of the Zoo in its heyday we are endebted to Glasgow author J.J. Bell, whose small boy hero, ' Wee Macgreegor ' paid it a visit one memorable day. Among the animals he saw were lions, tigers, a ' big white oosie beast ' subsequently identified as a ' Polish ' bear, sloth bears, hyaenas, camels - one with a ' face awfu like Aunt Purdie ' - elephants, monkeys, parrots and a tapir with a ' shoogly neb '.

    Competition from a chain of music halls resulted in Bostock being unable to book top artists, and the variety ' half ' of the Zoo Building lost money. In 1909 The Scottish Zoo closed down. Bostock, ever a man of vision, offered the animals to Glasgow Corporation to enable them to establish a zoological gardens in Glasgow. The Corporation declined, and the animals were dispersed elsewhere. It was not until the non-profit-making Zoological Society of Glasgow was founded in 1936 that the wheels began to turn which led to Calderpark Zoological Gardens being opened in 1947.

    Bostock let the Zoo Building for a variety of purposes. These included carnivals, evangelistic rallies (ten and a half thousand people being seated at a time), dog, flower and trade shows as well as his own travelling menagerie for short periods. During the Great War the Zoo Building was used first as a billeting centre for troops and later as a store for aircraft. In 1919 Bostock sold the building to the British Motor Transport Company. Fifty years later the paint on the roof still proclaimed the building as the home of The Scottish Zoo.

    2. The Zoological Society is Formed, 1936

    Although Glasgow Corporation turned down the offer of animals from The Scottish Zoo when it had closed in 1909, the idea of a zoo for Glasgow did not die out. The Corporation set up a zoo sub-committee of the Parks Committee. E.H. Bostock, former owner of The Scottish Zoo, though he had retired as a town councillor some time previously, was co-opted as a special advisor.

    Rouken Glen, on the south side of the city, was the favoured site. Indeed, some zebu - sacred Indian cattle - were already in residence there. On 4th August 1914 the Zoo Committee went out to Rouken Glen to finalise the area to be used for the Glasgow Zoo. On the same day the Great War broke out. Of course, that was the end of thoughts for a Glasgow Zoo.

    But only for the time being. . . . E.H. Bostock continued to run his travelling menageries and to provide the animals for the Kelvin Hall [ 3 ] during the Christmas Carnival season. In 1931 he finally retired. Once again he offered his collection of animals to Glasgow Corporation to form the basis of their zoo. Again, the Corporation declined. This time Bostock's animals went to the established zoos at London and Whipsnade.

    Some six years were to elapse before a group of enthusiasts called a public meeting in the Zoology Department of Glasgow University. This was on 15th December 1936. The meeting decided that the way to achieve the goal of a zoo worthy of Glasgow was by means of a non-commercial zoological society. It was agreed that The Zoological Society of Glasgow should be formed. Membership, then as now, was open to anyone interested in the aims of the Society, no further qualifications being needed. His Grace the Duke of Atholl became first Honorary President, Professor Edward Hindle was elected President and S.H. Benson became Honorary Secretary and Treasurer.

    Many prominent Scots declared their interest and support. The intrepid E.H. Bostock became a member. He was also one of the first to support the guarantee fund launched to underwrite the cost of establishing the new zoo. (Another guarantor of this time was Arthur H. Stewart who, in 1971, gifted the Tapir House, and, at the time of writing [ 4 ], is still a member of the Council of the Society.) Even before the Zoological Society was formed gifts of animals were promised; the very first was a macaw called Robert. At last, nearly thirty years after Bostock first offered his animals, all seemed set fair for Glasgow to have its own Zoo.

    3. Glasgow's Zoo - the Search for a Site, 1938-47

    The founding of the non-profit-making Zoological Society of Glasgow in 1936 was the beginning of an adventure, at times exciting, frequently frustrating but always fascinating for those members of the Society who took an active part in pursuing the aim of establishing a living zoological collection in the West of Scotland. Money had to be raised. A site had to be found. And a growing membership had to be serviced. The Press, then as today, was ready to report every move.

    The advent of the 1938 Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston Park led to the suggestion that an exhibit of Animals of the Commonwealth, covering about four acres, should be included. This display would be left to form the nucleus of the new Glasgow Zoo after the main Exhibition closed. For months the suggestion was considered by the Exhibition promoters, while the Society marked time. Eventually the idea was rejected.

    Back into the search for a site. Early in 1938 Professor Hindle, S.H. Benson and the other office-bearers investigated Garscube Estate, where the University Veterinary buildings are today situated. E.H. Bostock, still active, said he had tried to obtain this ground twenty years previously but without success. The Society fared no better and turned its attention first to Cathkin Braes and then to Calderpark, an estate of 93 acres, which came on the market at this time. An option was taken up on 15th May and the papers transferring ownership of the ground to the Zoological Society of Glasgow were signed early in 1939.

    Now that a site was available plans were drawn up. The order for the boundary fence was about to be placed. But, once again, war was to cheat the West of Scotland of its zoo. Calderpark Estate was let out, partly for ploughing, partly for grazing. The income was useful and in 1942 the ' zoo ' reported a profit of 6!

    During those years the Zoological Society ( now The Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland ), went from strength to strength. Membership increased and lectures were held regularly in the University on a variety of subjects. Indeed, the first lecture given after the declaration of war was entitled ' Animals and War Camouflage '.

    At the end of 1943 the Society had a serious loss when Professor Hindle, President since the foundation, had to resign when he was appointed Scientific Director to London Zoo. The position of President was not filled until early 1945 when the Earl of Dumfries was elected.

    With the end of the war, plans for the new zoo were prepared. Building materials were in short supply but enthusiasm and ingenuity solved many problems. A team of ex-servicemen under S.H. Benson, now Director-Secretary, set to work to enclose about 30 acres, using miles of wire that had previously been used in prisoner-of-war camps.

    Animal enclosures were constructed out of second-hand materials such as concrete road blocks once intended to hinder the enemy in case of invasion, bricks salvaged from air raid shelters now being demolished, timber from old mine trucks, metal from battleships, and road-making materials obtained by diverting scarified road-metal destined to be dumped.

    The animals began to arrive. They included Soay sheep from the island of St Kilda, owned by the President, as well as a representative collection of Scottish wildlife from his Bute estates. Dublin Zoo presented a pair of lion cubs. London Zoo loaned - and later donated - a pair of adult lions .

    A prize exhibit was a - then rare, though now fairly common - white peacock. The public brought along their exotic pets - monkeys, parrots and the like. The children, too, brought their pets to give to ' their ' zoo. Guinea pigs and rabbits added to the deer, monkeys, penguins and wallabies brought the number of animals up to 160 specimens by opening day, 9th July 1947.

    The war had finished two years previously. Britain was beginning the battle for recovery. And, at long last, Glasgow and the West of Scotland had its own zoo.

    4. The Early Years of Calderpark, 1947-1948

    The weeks and months following the opening of the Zoological Gardens at Calderpark in July 1947 were busy ones for Director-Secretary Sydney H. Benson and his staff. Construction work, suspended only for the opening day, continued. The additional demands of looking after the public as well as the day-to-day care of a growing collection of animals were offset by a glorious summer of sunshine and the general atmosphere of enthusiasm which the new venture aroused in public and staff alike.

    Indeed, the response of the public was sometimes too much for the public transport services. Over 100,000 people visited the zoo in the first three weeks after opening day and, at times, it seemed as if every tramcar in Glasgow was involved in ferrying people to and from Calderpark. In those days the legendary Glasgow tramcar took twenty minutes from Union Street to the zoo gate.

    The sun shone, the crowds poured in and week by week the press reported new arrivals for the animal collection: ostriches, baboons, touracos, a non-swearing cockatoo, yaks ( the strange Tibetan beasts of burden reminiscent of Scotland's Highland cattle ), and a young Bactrian camel called Lachie after Camlachie Public School, the first Glasgow school to make a contribution to the funds of the Zoo.

    In August, a pair of hyaenas were ' christened ' by Miss Gracie Fields . In November four lion cubs, the first to be bred in the zoo, were born. Another star, Miss Margaret Lockwood , came to their naming ceremony on a very wet January day. In spite of the weather over two hundred schoolchildren came to cheer.

    New enclosures were completed. New buildings, too. Never quickly enough, of course, but progress was steady. Building materials were still in short supply and a large, wooden building - formerly a naval prison at Scapa Flow - was purchased and re-erected as the main hall of the restaurant.

    In 1948 the first Tropical House was built on the flat ground overlooking the haugh enclosed by the loops of the North Calder Water. It was a small affair by today's standards (the shell was utilised for the main hall of the new Small Primate House) but it did enable the Society to house chimpanzee, leopard and a variety of species of exotic birds which required some heating during the winter months.

    The first Elephant House (now the Nocturnal House [ 5 ) was also built that year at the other end of the park on top of the hill, thereby spreading the interest for the visitors.

    It was a real red-letter day for the Society when the first elephant, Freda , was gifted by Sir Frederick C. Stewart in April 1948. At the handing-over ceremony in May, the Lord Provost of Glasgow presented the zoo with the first tiger, Sheila , on behalf of the Corporation. Both were expensive gifts well outwith the capacity of the Zoological Society to afford at that time. Another highlight was the gift from the Toronto Parks Department of a collection of Canadian animals including black bears, coyotes, raccoons and skunks.

    Each new event brought its own fresh wave of publicity and an upward swing in the number of visitors. But the first enthusiasm had calmed and the zoo settled down to a period of consolidation.

    5. Escapes - and Heroism, 1949

    Most zoos at one time or another in their history have had their quota of animals escaping from enclosures. These occasions are seldom dangerous. Usually, the animal is so startled to find itself outwith its normal surroundings that its immediate impulse is to try to return to its companions. An animal in this situation is, in many cases, far more vulnerable to suffering harm from human beings than the reverse.

    Then there are the ' escapes ' reported to the zoo staff which are not in fact escapes at all, but animals or birds deliberately given a measure of freedom within the zoo grounds. These, of course, are harmless creatures. The first at Calderpark was Johnny , a Soay sheep lamb and the first animal to be born in the zoo, a short time before it opened to the public in 1947. Today [ 6 ], peacocks and Guinea fowl enjoy the freedom of the grounds as does an occipital blue pie - a colourful member of the starling family, released from the free-flight area of the Tropical House by an intruder (human) over two years ago.

    It would be wrong to convey the impression that escapes of animals either now or in the past are frequent. But there have been some and as there is a considerable fascination in this aspect they have a place in the story of Calderpark.

    Shortly after the zoo opened the group of Bennett's wallabies escaped from their enclosure near the main gate. It was not long before one of them reached the main road and vanished for several hours. Eventually, it was spotted by the police near Mount Vernon, about a mile away from the zoo, and quickly recaptured.

    A few years later, some raccoons managed to escape and set up a colony near Baillieston, just north of the zoo. For many years odd reports have been received of strange animals being seen at rubbish bins. It is just conceivable that a viable breeding group has managed to exist for nearly twenty years, but conclusive evidence is hard to come by as no wild raccoon has been captured. Sealions and seals are veritable ' Houdinis '. An early zoo story is of a motorist telephoning the police one dark, rainy night to report a large, black animal on the Baillieston Road. Investigation revealed a sealion had wandered out of the zoo grounds but, apart from a broken fence, no harm was done.

    Seals on a couple of occasions have made for the North Calder Water where it flows through the zoo. Once that objective has been reached they have eluded re-capture. Sporadic reports of seal-sighting have followed these incidents and, while every care is taken to follow up and protect the animals, it must be presumed that they have found their way to the Ayrshire coast via Rutherglen and the Clyde.

    None of these escapes presented any real danger to human life and, of course, it is basic zoo practice to take all possible steps to ensure the safety of the public. However, on 5th November 1949 an incident occurred which could have had very serious consequences indeed.

    Head Keeper John Duffy was cleaning out the cages of the big cats in accordance with his normal, morning routine. He had finished the lions and was busy in the large, outside run of Sheila , the tigress presented to the Zoo in 1948 by Glasgow Corporation. Suddenly, he became conscious that he was not alone in the cage. Turning round, he saw the tigress padding towards him through the connecting door from the inner cage. Then, it reared up and placed its paws on his shoulders.

    Duffy dropped to his knees and managed to crawl between the animal's legs, through the outer door, and over the safety barrier before collapsing on the ground in front of the row of cages. Sheila followed him. Fortunately, there were few visitors in the zoo that morning. The main group, a party of schoolgirls, was at the other end of the grounds.
    Alex Innes with shovel.

    Attracted by the keeper's cries, the zoo gardener, ex-policeman Alex Innes , who was working nearby, rushed to his aid armed only with a shovel. With this, he beat the tigress around the head, distracting the animal from attacking Duffy further until Director-Secretary S.H. Benson and Zoo Overseer John Crawford came running up with rifles. Shouting on Innes to stand aside, the two men fired, again and again. The tigress dropped, lifeless, beside the prone figure of the Head Keeper.

    The whole incident probably lasted less than five minutes. It was reported on radio and in newspapers all over the world. Duffy recovered after several weeks in hospital. Sheila can still be seen, mounted upon a rock, snarling, in the Museum at Kelvingrove, Glasgow.

    Alex Innes with shovel.

    Innes, the gardener, was awarded the George Medal for his heroic action. With hindsight, it has been thought the tigress, which calmly and pleasurably accepted petting through the bars from its keepers, only wanted to play when it found the connecting door open. Yet no-one could blame the keeper for panicking when a 500lb tiger put its paws on his shoulders.

    An incident which could so easily have ended in tragedy was transformed into one of high drama by the courage of Alex Innes. Tributes came from many sources. Perhaps the most apt was the letter of thanks from the mother of one of the schoolgirls who were visiting the zoo that morning. ' I shudder to think what might have happened but for your action. '

    6. Fluctuating Fortunes, 1950-1967

    The fifties were not the happiest years for Calderpark. Initially, a chronic shortage of funds for major capital development hampered the provision of more spectacular settings for the animals in the collection. While more than seventy different species including tiger, zebra and elephant were to be seen, public interest could not be maintained at the level of the early years.

    The second-hand materials used so ingeniously in order to get the zoo opened so quickly after the war, when new building materials were virtually unobtainable, were losing such freshness as they had retained. Much of the available revenue was required for repairs and replacement. New developments were very limited. And, at the end of 1953, the bank overdraft was fast approaching the total assets of the Society. The outlook was bleak.

    At this stage one of those incidents which zoo directors dream about occurred. S.H. Benson had a phone call to meet Glasgow businessman, Herbert M. Ross, for lunch. Ross offered him a generous donation which paid off the overdraft. This was not the first nor the last gift from this benefactor. Three tigers had previously been donated; over the next five years sixteen cubs were born to the two females, a welcome relief from the difficulties of the time. In September 1954, Herbert Ross Wood was named to mark permanently this generosity. [ See also ]

    The Marquess of Bute, President of the Zoological Society since before the Gardens opened, was succeeded by A. McNab Chassels, a founder member of the Society and its first Vice-President, in 1955. Mr J.N. Connell was the next President.

    S.H. Benson continued as Director-Secretary and, in spite of a bus strike during the second half of the Glasgow Fair Holiday which affected attendances adversely, the future was looking brighter. Plans were prepared for the first major new development - the polar bear pool.

    Bad weather in 1958 - the period April till June was very cold - saw a serious reduction in attendances. No new developments were started although there was a credit balance of over 20,000 available. Uncertainty about the location of the zoo from the point of view of attracting the public lingered on. An approach was made, yet again, to Glasgow Corporation offering to hand over all assets if they wished to transfer the zoo to one of the Glasgow parks. Again, for the fifth time in fifty years, the Corporation declined, but the decision took time to reach and the cessation of development did not help Calderpark's image.

    The zoo had reached a low point in its story when the Council, with Dr Charles A. Hepburn now President, decided to start building again. An ambitious den and pool for polar bears was the first major project. The way forward seemed clear.

    Not yet. In the annual report for 1959 special mention is made amongst the other acknowledgements of, ' the excellent tramway services '. The terminus was at the zoo's main entrance. Less than a year later the trams were withdrawn, for ever. A further drop in attendances was experienced before the public adapted to travelling by bus and private car.

    The polar bear den was ready for occupation early in 1960. But S.H. Benson was slightly uneasy and did not introduce bears immediately. How fortunate this turned out to be. On 16th May the south wall collapsed. It was a constructional fault, the responsibility of the contractor. There was some delay before the wall was repaired and for many weeks the centre of the zoo looked as though a bomb had hit it. This set-back, understandably, did nothing to improve Calderpark's already low image. However, the days in the doldrums were coming to an end. The polar bear den was eventually rebuilt and became a major attraction in the years immediately following [ 7 . Dr Hepburn gifted new pay-boxes which enhanced the approaches to the zoo. New pools and fountains were installed near the restaurant8 and a number of smaller enclosures and aviaries were constructed.

    Herbert Ross, the zoo's most generous benefactor, died in 1960. The year before he had responded to the appeal for a Development Fund with an initial donation of 25,000. It is impossible to overstate the debt which the West of Scotland owes to this man who over the years gave 75,000 in cash in addition to gifts of valuable animals to create a zoo in the area.

    With 40,000 immediately available the Council deliberated carefully in order to make the best use of the money. In the Spring of 1965 a spacious new enclosure for the lions was formally opened by D. Pollock Smith, who had been elected President the previous year. The shell of a large new Tropical House was ordered that same year. Also, an approach made to Glasgow Corporation and Lanarkshire County Council for assistance resulted in the joint promise of the gift of a Cat House suitable for leopard, puma, lynx and smaller wild cats. Design work on these two major buildings started and phase one of the Tropical House was completed in 1966.

    1967 saw the departure of S.H. Benson, who had convened the first meeting of the Zoological Society of Glasgow in 1936 and, as Honorary Secretary, had nursed it through the years of war. As first Director-Secretary, he had supervised the building of the nucleus of the zoo and through high days and low had rejoiced and suffered accordingly day by day for over twenty years. The presentation on his retirement was made at the annual general meeting in April by Dr Hepburn, who paid tribute to the man who, more than any other, had made possible the zoo for the West of Scotland.

    7. More Dreams Come True, 1967-1972

    The next phase in the story of Calderpark was crammed with activity. The projects started early in 1967 continued under the supervision of the new Director-Secretary, Jerry Fisher. Trained in one of Europe's most famous zoos, J.S. Fisher brought a fresh mind and a different kind of expertise to the development of Calderpark.

    This year of 1967 also saw the first of many land reclamation projects. A start was made with raising the level of the haugh in the bow of the North Calder Water at the eastern end of the developed area. This had been fenced off as a deer park in the early days, but frequent flooding had made it unsuitable. These were necessarily messy operations, with contractors' trucks running into the park almost nose to tail for days on end in the winter months. The roads were frequently inches deep in mud but, miraculously, they were reasonably clear by Easter weekend.

    1968 was an exciting year. Not only were attendances the best for seventeen years, but two new buildings - and one old one given a new lease of life - came into use. The Tropical House, the largest building in the zoo, filled a long-felt gap by providing for the first time really suitable conditions for keeping snakes, lizards, crocodiles, alligators and other reptiles and amphibians. This was partially opened to the public this year (1973) and the large (over 6000 square feet), covered area has been much appreciated.

    The other major building, the Cat House, [ 9 ] was the joint gift of Glasgow Corporation and Lanarkshire County Council. This enabled the Society to house another group of animals in modern, easily-managed conditions. It also enabled the public to meet leopards, pumas, lynx and assorted wild cats on a more or less nose to nose basis through glass panels. This was a big advantage over the heavy menagerie-style bars of earlier buildings.

    The improved accommodation and the enlarged collection now possible meant that visitors could see over 120 different species of animals. The vision of the founders was moving into the realm of reality, though much remained to be done.

    Great public interest was shown in the Nocturnal House. [ 10 ] This small building had been adapted from the former Elephant House. The idea of reversing day and night by means of controlling the lighting, while not new in itself, was not common in the West of Scotland. Even less common in zoos was the communal exhibit, where several species of nocturnal animals were displayed in a ' tropical glade '. Modifications have been made from time to time, but the advantage of being able to see animals like pottos, lorises, flying squirrels and bush babies moving about, rather than as small, sleeping bundles of fur, continues to this day.

    The erection of these larger buildings diverted attention from the many new, small paddocks and enclosures which were erected. In earlier years these would, in themselves, have been looked on as signs of progress. Emu, cassowary, skunks and rare wallabies were among the animals added to the collection.

    The start of the seventies came, and development continued apace. True, had more funds been available the pace would have been quicker and more work would have been put out to tender. As it was, the zoo's own staff worked wonders and acquired many constructional skills.

    The local authorities, too, responded to the obvious commitment of the Director-Secretary and all actively concerned. They increased their grant aid and, very significantly, Lanark County Education Department began to implement J.S. Fisher's idea that a full-time Education Officer should be based at Calderpark. That it took until 1973 before this appointment was a reality is a reflection only of the extreme care that was taken to provide adequate basic facilities and to appoint a highly qualified person to the position.

    A pilot edition of Zoolife was also produced. Again, the support of the Directors of Education and their committees in the surrounding areas of the West of Scotland was paramount in launching what has been a most successful venture.

    Through the generosity of Arthur H. Stewart, second guarantor of the infant Society away back in 1936, another new building was opened in 1971. This was the Tapir House. In addition to a pair of South American tapirs, it housed a young elephant, Kirsty .

    The second night after her arrival, Kirsty decided to go exploring. She forced open the door (since reinforced!), and made her way up to the Tropical House, barged through the locked outer doors, splintering woodwork round the locks, and so entered the central area. Presumably, she thought her own reflection in one of the glass-fronted enclosures would be a friendly elephant; the breaking of glass must have been quite a shock. Fortunately, that particular pen was empty and Kirsty was returned safely to her own quarters.

    A large, moated enclosure giving visitors an uninterrupted view enables Kirsty to get her exercise in a less destructive manner.

    Meanwhile, at the other end of the park, on the made-up ground at the haugh, a new Camel House [ 11 , also with a moat instead of bars or fencing, came into use. The barless zoo conception was moving forward.

    The original Tropical House was next to receive attention. Gutted, renovated and greatly extended it became unrecognisable and has emerged as the Small Primate House, with excellent quarters for small monkeys and marmosets. Designed by J.S. Fisher, the building was scheduled to be opened on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the West of Scotland's own Calderpark Zoo. The building was, amid scenes of great rejoicing, not least from the thousands of schoolchildren admitted free to celebrate the occasion.

    J.S. Fisher had left for a large American zoo two months earlier. But he would have had satisfaction in hearing Lord Clydesmuir say at that opening ceremony, ' I think the essential framework has been laid . . . and we should be able to look forward to a period of accelerating progress '.


    1 Glasgow's first zoo: This article was written in 1973. It was not until 1997 that an even earlier zoo was identified, open for a few months in 1840.

    3 Kelvin Hall: The Kelvin Hall was for many years Glasgow's exhibition hall. With the opening of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), the Kelvin Hall was converted into a sports arena and transport museum.

    4 Tapir House. The article was written in 1973. In the 1990s the Tapir House was converted into the Children's Farm.

    5 Nocturnal House: Since the 1970s the Nocturnal House, located in front of the Tropical House, has not been used for animals.

    6 This article was written in 1973.

    7 Polar Bear House: The Polar Bear House was below the Tearoom. In the 1990s, the last Polar bear died and the enclosure was adapted for small cats and then waterfowl.

    8 Pools and fountains: This is the area in front of the Tearoom. In the 1990s, it was converted into a Parrot Garden.

    9 Cat House: The Cat House was constructed between the Tearoom and the Polar Bear House. In the 1990s the Cat House was converted into aviaries.

    10 The Nocturnal House. See note 5.

    11 Camel House: By 1998 the Camel House was housing Ankole cattle and llamas.