Norfolk Wildlife Park

Remembering Norfolk Wildlife Park

Nowadays with digital photos I hardly ever print off photos; I always have good intentions to do so, but the thought of going through 10+ years of digital photos to pick a handful of decent family snaps seems daunting. On some trips out I take hundreds of photos; maybe going back to film would be a good idea so that I’m a bit more selective in what I take pictures of.

Nonetheless, going through old printed photos can be a bit of a chore too. Many photos made it in to albums that sit on a dusty shelf in the lounge, but there is also a cardboard box full of “not quite good enough” to make the album shots. Over the years I’ve made several attempts to trim this box, adding a few of the pictures to albums where space (pages somehow missed!) is found, but it really needs a good sort even if it’s just to the negatives just get stored safely. So, a couple of weeks ago I started to sift through the box and was pleasantly surprised to find a few pictures of Norfolk Wildlife Park.

Norfolk Wildlife Park was one of my favourite places to visit as a kid, and as an adult too. It was one of the first places I took my “better half” on a date (by this point it had changed hands and was known as Norfolk Wildlife Centre and Country Park). We also took our eldest there a couple of times when he was very young, by which point it had been taken over again and renamed The Animal Ark. A few years ago Animal Ark sadly closed down.

If you’ve got some photos of Norfolk Wildlife Park it would be great if you can share them with us. If there’s somewhere else in Norfolk that you remember visiting as a child and would like to share your memories please do get in touch

The Norfolk Wildlife Park was opened in 1963 by the naturalist and conservationist Philip Wayre,  who can be seen here in video of the Park in 1965 (video is from Youtube). Philip also founded the Otter Trust and in later years the Philip Wayre Wildlife Trust.

Although it didn’t have the big-name animals of the larger zoos (no lions, tigers or elephants here) it did have a wonderful array of animals over the years including Otters, Arctic Fox, European Lynx, Wolf, Meerkats, Wild Boar, Barbary Ape, Macaques, Marmosets, Racoons, Highland Cattle, Prairie Dogs, Maras, Badger, Munjac, Fallow Deer, Wallaby, Llamas, Pygmy Goats, Donkeys, Ferrets, Iguanas, Rabbits and more. There was also many birds including Macaws, Pheasants, Bronze Turkey, Grey Heron, Emu, Eurasian Eagle (Bubu Bubo) Eagle Owl, Whooper Swans, Black Swans, Stone Curlews, Booted Eagles, Storks and Peacocks.

The otters were my favourite. I could spend ages watching them, and still do when we visit other zoos and wildlife parks. The fountain pool was a nice spot to visit too. In the latter years it was all a bit run down but it still felt like the same place I had visited as a child. From the moment you walk through the turnstile entrance there was a lovely familiarity to it, and there’s no better way to remember it.

If you’ve never heard of Norfolk Wildlife Park I suggest googling for Philip Wayre and Jeanne Wayre, the founders of the park at Great Witchingham.

So, back to my photo sorting. Here’s a few pictures of the park that I found, plus a couple of postcards too. They were taken in the late 1990’s and to be honest they aren’t great photos. I’m convinced I’ve got more somewhere, probably in another box in some unexplored cupboard and when I find them I’ll add them to this post. But this handful of images are reminders of fond memories that I’ll always hold for Norfolk Wildlife Park.

Amongst the old photos I also found a couple of postcards I had purchased at Norfolk Wildlife Park; See below. The postcards were produced by a defunct company called J. Arthur Dixon.

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