Friendly colleagues Steve and Anna Pilcher at Kiev Zoo in the Ukraine are now translating for us some of the heroic stories about what happened in their zoo during the last war.
We also received some interesting pages from James Wheeler at Birmingham Botanic Gardens about how their zoo and plant collection survived bombing and other shortages. Think of all those greenhouses and panes of glass!
We have also been in touch with an evacuee and his sister who was at Chessington Zoo during the war when it was bombed. Using a wide range of strange resources ranging form BBC websites to Mass Observation studies and zoo’s old official history books, we have more stories to tell about Edinburgh, Bristol, Belfast, Chester and London Zoos during the last war.
Our wartime zoo keeper’s vegetable patch is now dug ready to transplant seedlings and sow winter crops. Just the last row of fencing to keep free-ranging zoo animals away from lunch before it has had time to grow!
Watch this space! Lots more stories to come … and if you have any you think we would be interested in, please let us know.
Our World War Zoo research project and blog aims to uncover and collect many of the strange tales from this time not only for their own merit, but as a tribute to people of that difficult time and also for what lessons we can learn for our own future. There are lessons to be learnt for the coming days when our food and fuel, resources and climate may become scarce or more unpredictable.
Our World War Zoo project will be a practical living memorial, almost history that you can eat in the form of a wartime “dig for victory garden” being recreated at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall. More news of this project follows over the next few weeks as we prepare the ground and get planting.
Watch this space!
Mark Norris, World War Zoo Project team, Newquay Zoo, Cornwall, UK