Remembrance Sunday at the zoo gardens: remembering with poppies in the zoo gardens

wartime zoo keepers memorial 003

Remembrance in the wartime garden - remembering zoo staff, zoo families and other animalsPoppy cross of remembrance at the zoo keepers' wartime garden, Newquay Zoo

Zoo staff at Newquay Zoo, London Zoo and elsewhere in zoos and botanic gardens around Britain will stop work at 11am for the National two minutes silence of Remembrance Sunday, as they will at 11a.m. on 11th November next week to remember fallen zoo comrades from two world wars and the disruption to their families.

Our World War Zoo project is  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.

In my time as zoo staff,  I have seen Kosovo, Kabul,  Baghdad and other Middle East Zoos  affected by conflict.

If you seek another more poignant memorial, visit London Zoo, possibly the world’s most famous but not oldest zoo. Tucked away near the Lion houses and modern zoo buildings is a simple stone cross with well polished brass plaques, the writing almost obliterated in places.

Here are listed simplay and respectfully the names of those servants, ‘helpers’ and keepers of London Zoo and Whipsnade who died on active service. Alan Alder our Primate keeper at Newquay Zoo, who worked at London Zoo,  told me that every year a gathering of keepers lays a wreath of poppies on the stone steps and stands quiet during the two minutes silence, as do keepers in zoos all over Britain, remembering this extraordinary time amid the noise of animals calling throughout the park. A strange and atmospheric two minutes of (not very) silence …

It’s blowing a gale and raining here, the garden is appropriately very, very muddy. 

World War Zoo

World War Zoo is about looking back and looking forward, learning from the past to prepare for our future. The project developed from a chance discovery that zoos were closed in the early weeks of World War Two, and even though they were re-opened and supported as a way to boost moral, they struggled throughout. This was a time when food was short, and animals didn’t get ration books. Staffing was low with keepers being called up to fight, and repairs were difficult.

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