The Welsh Mountain Zoo – National Zoo of Wales has welcomed its eight millionth visitor this week!
The much loved Colwyn Bay tourist attraction has seen visitor figures rise year on year for the past three years, culminating in this landmark achievement.
The Welsh Mountain Zoo opened on 18 May 1963 – the realisation of a dream for the Zoo’s founder, lifelong wildlife enthusiast and experienced naturalist, Robert Jackson. Through the early years Bob and his wife Margaret committed all their energies into the development of the Zoo as a breeding centre for many rare and unusual species whilst also raising three young sons.
In 1983 a new charity, the Zoological Society of Wales, was formed which took over the interests and operation of the Zoo. Margaret retired as Managing Director, but the three Jackson brothers remained as Directors. In 2008, with support from the UK’s leading charity zoos, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and Welsh Assembly Government, the Zoo charity changed its name to the National Zoological Society of Wales and the Welsh Mountain Zoo was officially recognised as the National Zoo of Wales.
Now with one of the three Jackson brothers still at the helm, Nick Jackson, the Zoo has grown to become one of the most important tourist attractions in Wales, driving tourism throughout the area whilst providing a fantastic place to visit for local people and families.
Nick Jackson, Director at the Welsh Mountain Zoo commented: “This is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved in our work here at the Zoo. It’s wonderful to know that so many people, eight million in fact, have visited and enjoyed the Zoo over the years.”
The Zoo is undoubtedly one of North Wales’ premier attractions, generating some £2.1 million into the local economy each year, and works to develop its facilities and resources, encouraging and attracting both new and repeat visitors.
Nick continued: “The Zoo has been open to the public for 53 years and has grown and evolved so much during that time to become the wonderful place that it is today. We have remained true to our roots and our founding principles and that is to provide an important resource to support endangered species breeding programmes, conservation of animals in the wild and their habitats, and all this whilst providing a fun and educational day out for people of all ages.”
Eight million visitors have enabled the Zoo charity to develop its activities over the years. Its current projects include seal rescue and rehabilitation, provision of funding to conservation and education programmes in Madagascar, research to aid red squirrel conservation in Wales and a highly effective environmental education programme in the Zoo. Raising public awareness of the threats faced by the natural world, its habitats and wildlife is seen as a key part of the Zoo’s role as it prepares to welcome its next eight million visitors.