Calderpark Zoo ( or Glasgow Zoo in it’s later days)

Glasgow can be a bit wild at times but we are currently without a genuine zoo at the moment with Calderpark (Glasgow) Zoo being no more. If you fancied seeing some strange creatures and experience mammals outside of their natural habitat, you didn’t just have to wander about the town in the early hours, Calderpark Zoo had it all!

The Zoo was originally opened in 1947 on land which used to be the Calderpark Estate. The Zoo was run by the Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland, an entity which came into being in 1936. There was initially hope for the group to have a display at the Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston Park in 1938 but this plan didn’t come to fruition. From there, the focus turned to setting up a zoo on the edge of Glasgow at Calderpark.

Calderpark Zoo Entrance - Photo by sega_gary

Calderpark Zoo Entrance - Photo by sega_gary

You can find more of Sega_gary’s Glasgow / Calderpark Zoo photos on his Flickr page

Is it right to have a zoo?

At the time, there was a great discussion in the Glasgow Herald over the morality of zoos and whether it was right to keep animals caged up for our viewing pleasure. Many people, in fact probably more people, hold this opinion today but it is good to see that opposing viewpoints were being aired back then too. The idea of a zoo is one that readily splits opinions and there are positive and negative points from people on either side of the debate.

With 100 acres of parkland, there was plenty of space to roam and there were many favourite parts of the site for the regular who visitors who flocked through its doors. A wildlife garden, a bird rescue centre, the tropical house, the Adimula Tiger den, a children’s farm and of course, a gift shop were all central components of the zoo.

2003 saw the end

The zoo closed its doors for the final time in August 2003 but it still lives on in the memory of those who witnessed it at its finest. That and it still lives on in the many now trashed buildings and remnants of the site. For many years after the zoo had closed, visitors to the site were startled to find a number of animals still roaming the lands, including a llama! The official reporting of the time indicated that all of the animals were re-housed upon closure of the zoo but evidence indicated that this was a pack of lies. Either that or a great number of the animals had incredible homing tendencies.

It is said that the zoo was in decline from the 1970s onwards but even a diminishing zoo still has the ability to hold sway over a youngster experiencing animals like this for the first time. We’ve had a number of Twitter conversations about Calderpark Zoo and one helpful follower sent us some pictures and a lengthier description of their memories of the zoo.

Before the days of Costas holidays families would spend their holidays doing day trips .
We lived in the Cowcaddens area of Glasgow so one of our favourite day trips was to the Zoo.
My dad used to take us to a small zoo which was on the other side of the Clyde across the suspension bridge.
The real highlight was to Calderpark Zoo which in 60`s/70`s seemed miles away.
It was a full day out with mum making pieces and dad making up the diluting orange.
The Zoo was out the eastend of the city. Towards Balieston
The Zoo itself was very exciting because we had read about these wild animals in
our comics.,
To see lions,Giraffes and Elelephants in real life was magic .
Feeding time was the highlight. Seeing the lions attack their food was great entertainment.
The Polar bear wasn`t very lively but I suppose we was a bit far from home.
We all had a great day out and couldn`t wait to get home to tell our friends about our adventure.

June and Douglas Baird standing in front of Elephant  in Calderpark zoo 1964

June and Douglas Baird standing in front of Elephant in Calderpark zoo 1964

Thanks to Douglas Baird for the photo and his memories of the Zoo. Douglas Baird’s Twitter page

Twitter comments about Calderpark Zoo:

We asked: What’s your memories of Calderpark Zoo?

The polar bear doing the back stroke and all the kids feeding it their pieces and crisps. And one lad throwing up on the bus home. – @SimonSimpson

School trips to Glasgow zoo were superb 😉 – @woodpecker41

Go Wild at Calderpark Zoo - © Get Around Glasgow T-Shirts

Go Wild at Calderpark Zoo - © Get Around Glasgow T-Shirts

There are a good number of Flickr accounts which have captured images of the Zoo so it can be worth your while perusing through them:
Search for Glasgow Zoo: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=glasgow+zoo&f=hp
Search for Calderpark Zoo: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=calderpark+zoo