Happy 5th Birthday World War Zoo Gardens Newquay Zoo

Happy Birthday! Late August is the 5th anniversary of our World War Zoo Gardens wartime garden project at Newquay Zoo. It’s also our 5 year #Twitterversary  for @worldwarzoo1939

What better birthday card than a plain wartime birthday card, which jokes about rationing everything ... (Image Source: Author's collection, World War Zoo Gardens)

What better birthday card than a plain wartime birthday card, which jokes about rationing everything … (Image Source: Author’s collection, World War Zoo Gardens)

Our aim over five years since marking the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of war in 2009 has been very practical  to grow small unusual fresh food treats for our animals, but it’s also been about research and living history,  recreating the sort of allotment that grew up in zoos, botanic gardens, back gardens, railway sidings, anywhere there was land to grow ‘Dig for Victory’ vegetables to provide self-sufficiency from U-boat blockades of food,  when food much as now was mostly imported …

Inside the wartime birthday card a suitably foody rationing joke (Image: author's collection, World War Zoo gardens collection)

Inside the wartime birthday card a suitably food rationing joke (Image: author’s collection, World War Zoo gardens collection)

Now we have reached the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 in September 1939, an event somewhat overshadowed by the #WW1 centenary www.1914.org.

World War Zoo gardens graphic sign Summer 2011

World War Zoo gardens graphic sign Summer 2011

With the WW1 centenary we have been looking at what effect resource shortages of food, fuel, staff and building materials had on zoos and botanic gardens in wartime; a summary of blog posts and other WW1 related events can be found here.

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

World War Zoo Garden, Summer 2011: World War Zoo gardens, Newquay Zoo

There is a great little photo summary of the World War Zoo gardens project here on the BIAZA zoo website from 2011, when Newquay Zoo won its first ever zoo gardens and planting award.

Mark Norris in costume as the zoo's ARP Instructor and volunteer Ken our zoo 'Home Guard' delivering a World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo (Photo: Lorraine Reid / Newquay Zoo)

Mark Norris in costume as the zoo’s ARP Instructor and volunteer Ken our zoo ‘Home Guard’ delivering a World War Zoo Gardens schools workshop, Newquay Zoo (Photo: Lorraine Reid / Newquay Zoo)

We’ve survived snow and ice, very wet summers, very dry summers, saved seeds, produced podcasts as well as peas, fed monkeys with home-grown artichokes and broad beans, had our gnome guards go wandering across Europe … it’s been a very busy five years!

 

Rare 'Yaki' Sulawesi Macaque monkey at Newquay Zoo enjoying fresh broad bean pods, summer 2010. (Picture: Jackie Noble, Newquay Zoo)

Rare ‘Yaki’ Sulawesi Macaque monkey at Newquay Zoo enjoying fresh broad bean pods, summer 2010. (Picture: Jackie Noble, Newquay Zoo)

LDV Gnome guard in his usual allotment spot in our wartime 'Dig For Victory' garden Summer at Newquay Zoo, 2010

LDV Gnome guard in his usual allotment spot in our wartime ‘Dig For Victory’ garden Summer at Newquay Zoo, 2010 before he went wandering around the UK and Europe …

 

Our Gnome Guard on his planned travels, appearing in our wartime display at Trelawney Garden Centre's wildlife gardening weekend, August 2010

Our Gnome Guard on his planned travels, appearing in our wartime display at Trelawney Garden Centre’s wildlife gardening weekend, August 2010

Over the last few years we have been doing schools workshops based on everyday  life in WW2 and what happened in zoos, which you can read about here.

Time for a cup of tea and a chat,  outside our wartime garden exhibition.  Trengwainton 2014. Image - WWZG.

Time for a cup of tea and a chat, outside our wartime garden exhibition. Trengwainton 2014. Image – WWZG.

One of the highlights of the past 5 years has been chatting to visitors of all ages (and notably once a group of unclad naturists) ‘over the garden fence’ at  Newquay Zoo about everything from memories of food rationing to sustainability, allotments or schools gardens or meeting many people at other events from garden centres, garden societies and 1940s events at places like the National Trust’s Trengwainton Gardens.

Mr Bloom visits the World War Zoo Dig For Victory wartime garden at Newquay Zoo, 2 April 2012 with project manager Mark Norris.

“Who’s That?” Our most famous garden visitor Cbeebies Mr Bloom visits the World War Zoo Dig For Victory wartime garden at Newquay Zoo, 2 April 2012 with project manager Mark Norris. His photo still on display in the garden still gets lots of delighted recognition from younger zoo visitors!

 

This World War Zoo Gardens Blog has now reached over 60,000 visitors worldwide who may never even have visited Newquay Zoo, along with Twitter followers @worldwarzoo1939 as well.

Clays Fertiliser advert from 1940s Britain

Clays Fertiliser advert from 1940s Britain

Thinking about food waste, allotment gardening and energy saving have remained as much a part of modern life (especially throughout the recent recession) as it was in the 1940s. Soon we’ll be blogposting about the current EAZA European Zoo Pole to Pole campaign and ‘Pull the Plug’, looking at how people in the 1940s were encouraged to save energy for the war effort, rather than to tackle climate change and protect polar wildlife.

A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

A small memorial at Newquay Zoo to the many zoo keepers, families and visitors worldwide who have been affected by wartime since 1914 (Image: World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo)

It’s been a great group or team effort from many staff and volunteers at Newquay Zoo to get the allotment site established, maintain it when I was off ill for a year in 2012 (throughout a very wet summer) and  fantastic to establish partnerships with a wide range of people from our wartime sister zoo Paignton Zoo to London Zoo, Kew Gardens and many others. Some of these zoo and gardens staff have now retired or moved on, but as Richard one of our previous gardeners in a past  zoo newsletter wrote: “Every gardener has added something to the Zoo, developing the gardens over time. It feels like a team project where you are working with people you have never met”.

Site staff and keepers lend a hand with sandbags - Lisa from zoo site staff helping out with the World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, December 2009

Site staff and keepers lend a hand with sandbags – Lisa from zoo site staff helping out with the World War Zoo gardens project, Newquay Zoo, December 2009

Adrian our Operations manager waylaid to lend a hand with the sand(bags) for the World war Zoo keeper's garden! Newquay Zoo, Dec. 2009

Even the odd zoo manager as in wartime would have to pick up a (Cornish!) shovel and get stuck in filling sandbags – Adrian our now retired Operations manager waylaid to lend a hand with the sand(bags) for the World war Zoo keeper’s garden! Newquay Zoo, Dec. 2009. This rocky slope originally an aviary for the Cornish chough became eventually a coati house before its rebuilding in 2010 as the Madagascar Aviary.

 

Scroll back through past blog posts for some of the highlights of our project. Happy reading!

Thanks to everyone for their support, and we look forward to another 5 years of gardening, research and digging around to unearth more fascinating stories of life in wartime zoos and botanic gardens.

Happy gardening!

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo,  August 2014

 

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