Archive for the ‘BIAZA’ Category

Herby Harvest Home at Newquay Zoo for Monkeys

October 19, 2015

Squirrel Monkey exploring scented herb enrichment, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Nicole Howarth, Newquay Zoo)

Squirrel Monkey exploring scented herb enrichment, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Nicole Howarth, Newquay Zoo)

This weekend I was busy clearing some of the World War Zoo Garden Allotment crops at Newquay Zoo to prepare for the autumn season. I dropped off a pile of fresh herb clippings (Lemon Balm, fresh  Mint)  in our animal food preparation room  for Carnivore and Primate sections to use to scent mark and enrich some of our enclosures.

Primate Keeper Nicole Howarth grabbed a handful of these herbs and dropped some Lemon Balm and fresh Mint bundles off along our Monkey Walk enclosures. You can see one of our Squirrel Monkeys  exploring this new scent and probably bug-hunting through the bundle, harvested minutes before.

Squirrel Monkey exploring scented herb enrichment, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Nicole Howarth, Newquay Zoo)

Squirrel Monkey exploring scented herb enrichment, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Nicole Howarth, Newquay Zoo)

We’re harvesting the last of the Rainbow or Rhubarb Chard ahead of the first frosts. This colourful bundle was thrown to our Critically endangered group of  Sulawesi Macaque monkeys by this Sunday’s Junior Keeper (who coincidentally had the unusually planty surname of Chard) with a few small Globe  artichoke heads for good measure. A lot of the leaf holes are not snail damage, I discovered, but peacocks! Apparently the Macaque monkeys enjoyed it all with great gusto, sap, leaf and stem!

A colourful bundle of Chard in our 'Victory' Harvest 70 years on, Newquay Zoo, 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)

A colourful bundle of Chard in our ‘Victory’ Harvest 70 years on, Newquay Zoo, 2015 (Image: Mark Norris

Keepers are free to come and raid the allotment as they wish, just letting me know what they’ve taken and which animals benefitted. Keepers  have been known (as I have on odd occasions) to grab some of this fresh  mint  for the odd cup of soothing fresh herbal tea, one keeper swears by Lemon balm tea which I have yet to try.

Primate Keeper Nicole harvesting flowering chives, 2012 (Image: Mark Norris)

Primate Keeper Nicole harvesting flowering chives, 2012 (Image: Mark Norris)

Nicole Howarth gets the whole sustainability thing of the garden, albeit 1940s self-sufficiency in response to gunpoint and jackboot. She has recently finished a pioneering MSc in Zoo Sustainability, focussed on Newquay Zoo, ‘Assessing environmental impacts in zoos to inform sustainable collection planning a case study at Newquay Zoo’ by Nicole Fenton Howarth for an MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology July 2015.

This isn’t the first time that Nicole on our Primate section has used our garden produce. Some herbs and vegetables we harvest in their seed or flowers stage to make them a little more unusual ‘picky’ and tactile enrichment for our animals. Not the kind of things you can easily buy in the shops!

Globe Artichoke in flower silk stage, Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Globe Artichoke in flower silk stage, Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Some of the veggies in flower or colourful chard are so attractive, it’s tempting to leave them a little longer to be admired in flower by visitors. Thistly looking Globe Artichokes sometimes spring into ‘flower’, these ‘flower silks’ prove another interesting challenge to monkey fingers.

On the lawn next to the lion enclosure, bundles of herbs and some garlic seed heads for our monkeys, October 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)

On the lawn next to the lion enclosure, bundles of herbs and some garlic seed heads gathered for our monkeys, Newquay Zoo, October 2015 (Image: Mark Norris)

Garlic flower seed heads for picky Monkey fingers Image:  Mark Norris

Garlic flower seed heads for picky Monkey fingers Image: Mark Norris

Overall it has been a reasonable 2015 growing season with a few failures – broad beans,  peas – probably from dryness or tired soil. At least the garden has added a small amount of colour as well as fresh animal food to Newquay Zoo’s overall gardens this year which we are proud to have seen win a Newquay in Bloom award 2015 for the Leisure Attraction Class following our  2014 win for our ‘Restaurants and Tea Gardens’ area.

The Wesley Trembath cup at Newquay Zoo, Newquay in Bloom 2015. Image: Mark Norris.

The Wesley Trembath cup at Newquay Zoo, Newquay in Bloom 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Black Gold – Compost

The wartime allotment garden is going slowly to bed for the winter. Buckets of rich dark humus from part of our fabulous Newquay Zoo compost heaps have been scattered all over the plot to break down and add texture to our slaty clay soil through the frost season.  The really big bundles of hoofstock bedding straw and green waste go offsite to local farm composting, otherwise Newquay Zoo would be a towering huge compost heap of Dickensian proportions. It’s all a not so  glamorous part of our ISO 14001  green or environmental certification going on in front and behind the scenes at Newquay Zoo.

Surprisingly we did manage to get a perfect balanced  Ph reading (not too acid, not too alkaline) last year through on soil testing of our allotment.

Compost bucket of rich loveliness - weeds in, compost out. Image: Mark Norris.

My battered compost bucket of rich loveliness – weeds in, compost out at Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris.

Our Powerhouse! Site and Gardens section's Compost heaps behind the scenes and the towering platforms of the Macaque monkey enclosure at Newquay Zoo. I just add buckets of weeds and old veg bits to the mix. Image: Mark Norris.

Our Powerhouse and peacock haunts! Site and Gardens section’s Compost heaps behind the scenes and the towering platforms of the Macaque monkey enclosure at Newquay Zoo. I just add buckets of weeds and old veg bits to the mix. Image: Mark Norris.

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory! World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

Modern Growmore next to the campaign signs of what replaced the National Growmore Campaign, Dig For Victory!
World War Zoo Gardens Project, Newquay Zoo, January 2015

One half of the garden  has had its ‘Dandruff shampoo advert’ dressing of wartime National Growmore Fertiliser, the other half is again seeded with autumn mix Green manure (Crimson and Broad Leaf Clover, Rye Grass and White Tilney Mustard). This year’s half and half  ‘Dandruff style challenge’ seemed to show no noticeable difference throughout the 2015 growing season. https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/national-growmore-fertiliser-a-brief-history/

Our tiny wartime garden plot emptying out with the Autumn harvest, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Our tiny wartime garden plot emptying out with the Autumn harvest, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Not enriching the soil too much is important in the herb patch sections of the garden, but they do tend to merge and get tangled up in each other  in a small garden plot as you can see in how the poppies (first flowering here this year) are flowering and seeding amongst the last of the Chard.

A reminder that in less than a month, it will soon be Poppy day, Armistice or Remembrance Sunday, our garden having a simple memorial function for all the zoo keepers and gardeners lost in both World Wars:  https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/ww1-related-posts/

Poppies amongst the Autumn harvest, World War Zoo garden project, Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Poppies amongst the Autumn harvest, World War Zoo garden project, Newquay Zoo, 2015. Image: Mark Norris

Our temporary keepers' memorial plaque, Newquay Zoo, 2015

Our temporary keepers’ memorial plaque, Newquay Zoo, 2015

Sharing plant knowledge with Keepers

In my 2014 ABWAK journal RATEL article for keepers,  I used this garden  as an opportunity to promote to keepers that BIAZA Plant Working Group has compiled a Wikisite listing of animals and plants www.zooplants.net with reference to various aspects of plant nutrition, enrichment or toxicity for each animal. Any adverse reactions including death in the past have been noted by keepers on this worldwide wiki page / forum.

The BIAZA Plant Working Group has also in the past compiled a database of browse and poisonous plants. This was also mentioned in my article Enrichment, visitor engagement or history your zoo animals can eat? The ongoing role of the Wartime Zoo Keepers’ Garden at Newquay Zoo article for ABWAK journal RATEL 41(1) March 2014, pp  5-9.

Here is the plant list of veg, fruit and herbs grown successfully or not so far since 2009.

Plants list – World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo (2009-15)

  • Allium cepa    – (Spring) Onion
  • Allium sativum – Garlic
  • Allium schoenoprasum – Chives
  • Allium tuberosum – Garlic Chives
  • Allium ampeloprasum    – Leek
  • Anthriscus cerefolium – Chervil
  • Borago officinalis – Borage (blue or white)
  • Beta vulgaris – Beet varieties (rainbow, rhubarb chard)
  • Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla – Perpetual Spinach
  • Brassica oleracea – Kale & cabbage varieties,Savoy & Pak Choi
  • Calendula officinalis – Pot or English Marigold
  • Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus – Globe Artichoke
  • Eruca sativa – (Salad) Rocket
  • Fragaria × ananassa – Strawberry
  • Foeniculum vulgare – Fennel
  • Galium odoratum – Sweet Woodruff
  • Helianthus annuus – Sunflower
  • Lavandula angustifolia   – English Lavender
  • Lactuca sativa    – Lettuce
  • Melissa officinalis – Lemon balm
  • Mentha x piperita – Peppermint
  • Mentha spicata   – Spearmint
  • Nepeta cataria – Catnip / Wild Catmint
  • Petroselinum crispum    – Parsley
  • Pisum sativum   – Pea
  • Rosmarinus officinalis – Rosemary
  • Rubus fruticosus – Bramble or Blackberry
  • Rubus idaeus – Raspberry
  • Taraxacum officinale – Dandelion
  • Teucrium marum – Cat Thyme
  • Tropaeolum majus – Nasturtium
  • Vicia faba – Broad Bean
  • Zea mays – Maize or Sweetcorn

At some point we will update our slightly chaotic 2010 list of heritage 1940s vegetables: https://worldwarzoogardener1939.wordpress.com/2010/05/17/a-first-abc-of-wartime-vegetable-varieties-our-%e2%80%98free-gift%e2%80%99-to-you-to-celebrate-plant-conservation-day-2010-18-may-2010-from-the-world-war-zoo-gardens-at-newquay-zoo/

A big thanks to our Keeper and Site / Gardens Teams again this year. Happy Harvesting!

Posted by Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens at Newquay Zoo.

A Dig For Victory cartoon in my cuttings collection celebrating Harvest Home 1941 from Punch by Thomas Derrick, Punch, Sept 17, 1941.

A Dig For Victory cartoon in my cuttings collection celebrating Harvest Home 1941 from Punch by Thomas Derrick, Punch, Sept 17, 1941.

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Poppies poem anniversary written 3 May 1915

May 3, 2015

 

 

Somme poppies, Thiepval area, France taken on my first trenches tour,  1992 (Copyright: Mark Norris)

Somme poppies, Thiepval area, France taken on my first trenches tour, 1992 (Copyright: Mark Norris, WWZG, Newquay Zoo)

 

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row …”

Today is the 100th anniversary of the writing on 3rd May 1915 of the Poppies poem, In Flanders Fields, by Canadian Army doctor John McCrae.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

It was written by McCrae to commemorate his Canadian friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer who had died the day before on 2 May 1915 during the Second Battle Of Ypres. McCrae had presided over the burial and noticed poppies around the graves.

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1592956/HELMER,%20ALEXIS%20HANNUM

The poem was said to have been written in the back of an ambulance the next day 3rd May 1915 but not published anonymously until 8th December 1915 in Punch magazine. McCrae himself died of pneumonia in January 1918.

I visited  the very muddy flooded Essex Farm casualty clearing station where McCrae worked  and took my picture of Thiepval Somme poppies the same wet, overcast day in 1992. You can see pictures on Alan Jennings’ WW1 Battlefields Blog

Tower Poppies

Tower Poppies, London WW1 Centenary, November 2014 (Image: Mark Norris, WWZG collection)

The poem’s final verse (below) caused some unease and discussion when it was read recently at a local Roll of Honour rededication ceremony. However I think it sits well with the WW1 centenary ethos of keeping ‘faith’ with the memory of all “the Dead”  of all nations, in remembering the fallen WW1 casualties and their generation.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

You can read more about John McCrae and Alexis Helmer who inspired the Poppies poem at :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Flanders_Fields

http://www.greatwar.co.uk/poems/john-mccrae-in-flanders-fields.htm

The recent Gallipoli anniversary in April 2015 also saw CWGC commemoration of the early death from disease on active service  of poet Rupert Brooke and his sonnet The Soldier : “If I Should Die …”

Wild Memorial Flowers

The Poppy went on to become a powerful symbol of remembrance, symbolic of blood yet at odds with the beautiful spread of wildflowers on disturbed farmland torn up and disfigured by the trenches. The Tower Poppies display in Autumn 2014  showed that its symbolic power en masse has not faded with the years but grown with the centenary and with fresh memories of recent conflict.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Tower Poppies, Autumn 2014. (Image: Mark Norris, WWZG)

 

In France, according to RBGE archivist Leonie Paterson, the equivalent remembrance flower is the Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) or “Les Bleuets”, based on the sky blue uniform adopted during WW1 by the French troops. Leonie has been studying many of the flowers dedicated to RBGE staff killed in WW1 on her fascinating blog posts. A WW1 centenary wildflower and poppy lawn were sown at RBGE Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh in 2014.

I have planted some Cornflowers, a source of edible petals for some of our animals, in our World War Zoo Gardens allotment plot at Newquay Zoo.

Many BIAZA zoos in the UK including Newquay Zoo have planted wildflower areas in 2015 as part of the BIAZA Grab That Gap  wildflower initiative with Flora Locale to encourage wildlife and survey them as part of  a BIAZA Bioblitz this summer.

French prisoners of war in a German postcard, wearing the old early French WW1 uniform (almost bright Waterloo colours) before it became sky blue, like the cornflower - "les bleuets"  (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection)

French prisoners of war in a German postcard, wearing the old early French WW1 uniform (almost bright Waterloo colours) before it became sky blue, like the cornflower – “les bleuets” (Image Source: Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens collection)

Remember John McCrae, Alexis Helmer and the many other casualties of all nations, whenever you next see a wild poppy blowing in the wind, wherever it is, in a zoo or in a field or garden  …

Mark Norris, World War Zoo Gardens project, Newquay Zoo.

Not just zoo animals get adopted, even wartime allotments get Christmas presents …

December 14, 2013

oxfam unwrapped ecardChristmas is often a challenge to find the right gift, which is why we do lots of Christmas experience gifts and animal adoptions at Newquay Zoo and Paignton Zoo. Many zoos do this gift scheme – you can find your local BIAZA zoo in Britian and Ireland on the BIAZA website.

Animal adoptions were one innovative wartime solution to shortage of funding to feed the animals especially when zoos closed at the outbreak of war for weeks or sometimes months in 1939. Both Chester Zoo and London Zoo claim to have first set this up in 1939/40, a scheme which was picked up by other zoos and has never stopped.

Our wartime allotment has just received another Christmas card this year again in 2013 – by email! It was a lively Oxfam Unwrapped allotment gift e-card with a little Christmas message: “This Xmas gift of an allotment is one way of linking the allotment and project work of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo with what is happening in troubled parts of the world today.” Maybe a new Oxfam  allotment in Afghanistan is our first informal twin.

It is very appropriate twinning as Oxfam itself was born out of a humanitarian response to wartime famine in Greece in the 1940s. You can find out more about the allotment gifts at Oxfam’s  website http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped/gardeners/plant-an-allotment-ou7026ag

As the Oxfam e-card went on to say – “More budding UK gardeners are discovering the joys of growing their own. But for many poor women and men an allotment isn’t just a way of saving on the weekly shop, it’s how they feed their families and earn a bit extra to buy other essentials. And this gift will supply the tools, seeds and training to create working allotments that will produce a lot more.”

I was really pleased to hear that “As part of this project in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Oxfam is helping women to establish kitchen gardens on their land to supplement their income and their family’s diet. Oxfam provides the training and distributes the seeds for the women to grow a variety of vegetables and crops. The extra produce that the family cannot eat is sold at local markets.”

Shirin Gul is one gardener who has been reaping the benefits after Oxfam distributed seeds in her village: “It’s very expensive to buy vegetables here in the mountains. I am lucky as I have a plot of land. Our family has always grown vegetables on this plot – but the Oxfam seeds mean the amount and variety of vegetables that I grow has increased. It used to just be potatoes, onions and egg-plants but now I have tomatoes, beans, squash, lettuce, cucumber – oh, everything.”

Zeinab, from the nearby village of Sah Dasht, is also a lady with green fingers. Her garden is full of produce. There are beans, potatoes, okra and tomatoes all ready to be picked. “I had never really done much farming before though I did grow potatoes but Oxfam gave me some training to help me grow the maximum amount of vegetables.”

I’m very pleased that one  Oxfam project area is Afghanistan. Each year at Newquay Zoo’s Christmas carol service (which ran for almost 20 years until this year),  the retiring collection was usually for our conservation projects at the zoo and overseas, some of them in former war-afflicted areas like Vietnam. Ten years or more ago in the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001/2, I can remember asking visitors for contributions to the global zoo effort to support the recovery of  Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan which had suffered under the Taliban. There also can’t be many of us who don’t know a service family with relatives who have served there in the last ten years or are spending a wartime christmas away from home on active service.

In the next few days I will be posting about the 70th anniversary of the Mucks Mauler Liberator US aircraft crash on he Newquay coast on 28 December 1943. Relics of the plane were exhibited at Newquay Zoo’s wartime displays in the past.

It will soon be time to plan the spring planting to provide a small amount of fresh food for our zoo animals as they did in wartime. It’s time to flick through plant catalogues and plan planting schemes. You can also read through previous Wartime Christmas blog posts on this website.

2014 will be a busy year with the start of the commemoration of the Great or First World War http://www.1914.org We will continue posting about zoos, botanic gardens and allotment gardening in the First World War throughout the year.

I wish all a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year 2014  to our blog readers, zoo visitors, zoo staff, their animals and gardeners everywhere.

Not just zoo animals get adopted, even wartime allotments get Christmas presents …

December 18, 2012

oxfam unwrapped ecardChristmas is often a struggle to find the right gift, which is why we do lots of Christmas animal adoptions at Newquay Zoo and Paignton Zoo. Many zoos do this gift scheme – you can find your local BIAZA zoo in Britian and Ireland on the BIAZA website.

Animal adoptions were one innovative wartime solution to shortage of funding to feed the animals especially when zoos closed at the outbreak of war for weeks or sometimes months in 1939. Both Chester Zoo and London Zoo claim to have first set this up in 1939/40, a scheme which was picked up by other zoos and has never stopped.

Our wartime allotment has just received another Christmas card this year again in 2013 – by email! It was a lively Oxfam Unwrapped allotment gift e-card with a little Christmas message: “This Xmas gift of an allotment is one way of linking the allotment and project work of the World War Zoo Gardens project at Newquay Zoo with what is happening in troubled parts of the world today.” Maybe this new allotment in Afghanistan or Africa is our first informal twin …

It is very appropriate twinning as Oxfam itself was born out of a humanitarian response to wartime famine in Greece in the 1940s. You can find out more about the allotment gifts at Oxfam’s  website http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped/gardeners/plant-an-allotment-ou7026ag

As the Oxfam e-card went on to say – “More budding UK gardeners are discovering the joys of growing their own. But for many poor women and men an allotment isn’t just a way of saving on the weekly shop, it’s how they feed their families and earn a bit extra to buy other essentials. And this gift will supply the tools, seeds and training to create working allotments that will produce a lot more.”

I was really pleased to hear that “As part of this project in Badakhshan, Afghanistan, Oxfam is helping women to establish kitchen gardens on their land to supplement their income and their family’s diet. Oxfam provides the training and distributes the seeds for the women to grow a variety of vegetables and crops. The extra produce that the family cannot eat is sold at local markets.”

Shirin Gul is one gardener who has been reaping the benefits after Oxfam distributed seeds in her village: “It’s very expensive to buy vegetables here in the mountains. I am lucky as I have a plot of land. Our family has always grown vegetables on this plot – but the Oxfam seeds mean the amount and variety of vegetables that I grow has increased. It used to just be potatoes, onions and egg-plants but now I have tomatoes, beans, squash, lettuce, cucumber – oh, everything.”

Zeinab, from the nearby village of Sah Dasht, is also a lady with green fingers. Her garden is full of produce. There are beans, potatoes, okra and tomatoes all ready to be picked. “I had never really done much farming before though I did grow potatoes but Oxfam gave me some training to help me grow the maximum amount of vegetables.”

I’m very pleased that one  Oxfam project area is Afghanistan. Each year at Newquay Zoo’s Christmas carol service (which ran for almost 20 years until this year),  the retiring collection was usually for our conservation projects at the zoo and overseas, some of them in former war-afflicted areas like Vietnam. Ten years or more ago in the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001/2, I can remember asking visitors for contributions to the global zoo effort to support the recovery of  Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan which had suffered under the Taliban. There also can’t be many of us who don’t know a service family with relatives who have served there in the last ten years or are spending a wartime christmas away from home on active service.

In the next few days I will be posting about the 70th anniversary of the Mucks Mauler Liberator US aircraft crash on he Newquay coast on 28 December 1943. Relics of the plane were exhibited at Newquay Zoo’s wartime displays in the past.

It will soon be time to plan the spring planting to provide a small amount of fresh food for our zoo animals as they did in wartime. It’s time to flick through plant catalogues and plan planting schemes. You can also read through previous blog posts on this website.

I wish all a peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Year 2014  to our blog readers, zoo visitors, zoo staff, their animals and gardeners everywhere.


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