Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm opened for its first full season in 1999, so it seems our 15th anniversary is an appropriate time to tell you a little bit more about the zoo’s fascinating history and deep-founded roots.
The national award-winning, 110-acre zoo is now known for being home to some of the most amazing and exotic animals in the world, including Bengal Tigers, Giraffes, and Elephants. As well as this, kids love the exciting indoor and outdoor adventure playgrounds, inviting café and popular tractor rides. But it hasn’t always been the spectacle that it is today.
Noah’s Ark is built on the site of Moat House Farm and, together with his wife Christina, Anthony Bush was a tenant dairy farmer here for 35 years until 1995, when the couple bought the farm from their Landlord – Lord Wraxall of Tyntesfield.
They went on to rebuild the old farm buildings, and decided to open a themed animal park where visitors could appreciate nature and also be reminded of where their food really comes from, as it is only by knowing this that we can appreciate what we consume and the important history of farming in the UK. The Bush’s hope was also to freshly present the ancient tradition of God’s relationship with mankind, and of the contemporary science that points to creation plus evolution of species. The zoo is described by Anthony as a place where visitors can feel they have “scientific permission to believe in God”, in an age where religion is being side-lined, mostly in science discussion.
When Noah’s Ark opened its doors fifteen years ago, the main attractions were farm animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs and goats. It wasn’t until the start of the millennium that the building work really got underway, including brand new indoor and outdoor play areas and the world’s longest hedge maze, amongst other attractions.
2005 saw the first of the big zoo animals arrive: two South African white rhinos. Next came Gerald the giraffe, two endangered siamang gibbons, tapirs, zebras and ostriches – along with other amazing species.
Our ten year anniversary was celebrated in 2009 with the birth of a baby Tapir named Troy – a birth that was watched by people all over the world on live webcam. The zoo also received media attention when our Bengal Tigers arrived, as well as when we welcomed our three African lion cubs and our first female giraffe, Genevieve – a girlfriend for Gerald. In 2012, our first baby giraffe, George, was born.
Our Elephant Eden, the largest exhibit we’ve ever constructed, was ready after five years of planning in 2013, and our first African Elephant , Buta, finally arrived in February 2014, followed by the recent arrival of our first bull elephant, Janu, in October.
We are extremely proud of what we have achieved here at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm and are excited about what the future holds. There are exciting plans afoot to make important improvements to our play areas, provide indoor heating and bring more impressive animal species for you to learn about and enjoy. Come and celebrate our 15 year anniversary with us by paying a visit to our wonderful zoo.
If you would like to read more about the history of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, pick up a copy of Anthony Bush’s autobiography ‘From Cows to Tigers: Building Noah’s Ark’, either at the gift shop or online.