Our History

Newquay Zoo is one of Cornwall’s most popular tourist attractions, and has come on a long way since its humble beginnings.

Q3 Norman Marshall Sealions 1970s

Now a leading conservation and education centre, Newquay Zoo started life as a seasonal attraction back in the 1950s, however back then it was named Newquay Children’s Zoo and was located over in the rose garden area of Trenance Gardens. Newquay Urban District Council decided in 1969 to relocate it to its current site and now permanent home. Since day one there has always been a lot of local interest with over 4000 visitors through its gates on opening day.

In 1994 Newquay Zoo was bought by Mike Thomas and Roger Martin, and for the next nine years was privately owned. One of the highlights of this time was the revolutionary partnership with St Austell College. This partnership established and developed an educational facility on land adjacent to Newquay Zoo, catering for BTEC and HND studies. Now part of Cornwall College, this facility employs members of Newquay Zoo’s education staff to teach courses.

In 2003 Newquay Zoo joined forces with Paignton Zoo and is now part of Wild Planet Trust, a registered charity dedicated to conserving natural habitats and wildlife throughout the world. Newquay Zoo has become a leading centre of excellence in animal welfare and conservation.

Q9 Camel 1970s guidebook

Newquay Zoo is continually evolving. When it first opened in 1969, animals included lions, bears, leopards and flamingos. Now Newquay Zoo has expanded, growing to 13 acres with approximately 130 species including penguins, zebras, civets, macaws and wildebeest. In 2016 a new walk-through aviary called Gems of the Jungle opened to highlight the south-east Asian songbird crisis, it is home to some of the World’s rarest bird species including Javan green magpies. Conservation and breeding programmes are still proving to be highly successful within Newquay Zoo.

Take a look at some of Newquay Zoo’s history with photos old and new, here: