Buildings at the zoo (photo Sept 2008)
The zoo is located at Les Augrès Manor, Trinity, Jersey, 5 miles (8.0 km) north of Saint Helier. It officially opened on March 26, 1959.
The zoo is situated in 31 acres (130,000 m2) of landscaped parkland and water-gardens. It has a strong commitment to looking after the Island's native wildlife, and large areas within the grounds have been designated native habitat areas. The extensive planting of flowering and fruiting trees throughout the grounds also serves to attract a plethora of wild birds and insects. Included in the former are several species of bird which used to be commonly seen in Island gardens but have become increasingly scarce, including the house sparrow and song thrush.
There are over 50 nest-boxes positioned around the grounds, which are used by a variety of birds including barn owls, kestrels, swallows and martins. Other animals which are commonly seen within the grounds are the red squirrel, bank vole, and the short-toed tree creeper, which is not found in the UK.
Species at Durrell
Jewels of the Forest
Opened in 2004, and houses various Asian birds such as:
Palawan Peacock Pheasant
Mindanao Bleeding-heart Dove
First opened in 1999, the Cloud Forest is the first enclosure at Durrell to feature mixed animals, including carnivorous species.
Oriental Small-clawed Otter
Black Howler Monkey
Princess Royal Pavilion
The Pavilion was opened by HRH Princess Anne Princess Royal, in 1970s, and serves as a conference centre, and classroom. The theatre shows films depicting the work of the trust, and also exhibits artwork. It highlights the work undertaken by the Trust around the world.
- Partula Snails 1992-
- South American Caecillian 2008-
The Pavilion also houses a number of species which are used for educational aspect of conservation. They include Corn Snake, Rainbow boa, Milk Snake, New Guinea Blue tongued Skink, Giant African land snail, Giant millipede, Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, and Maclays Spectre a large stick insect.
The Gaherty Reptile and Amphibian Centre
The Reptile house is the home of many species of reptiles and amphibians which Durrell is intent on helping towards safely securing for the future.
Malagasy Flat tailed tortoise
Lesser Antillean Iguana
Indochinese Box Turtle
Cuvier's Dwarf Caiman
Rio Fuerte Beaded Lizard
Blue Spiny Lizard
Lesser Night Gecko
Majorcan midwife toad
Strawberry Poison-dart Frog
Blue Poison Dart Frog
Golden Poison Dart Frog
Amazon Milk Frog
Montserrat Whistling Frog
Malayan Tree Toad
Golfodulcean Poison Frog
Jersey Agile Frog
Jersey Common Lizard
The Gorilla family has been at Durrell since it first opened in 1959, and continue today to be one of the icons of the park. The current enclosure includes a good sized outdoor play area, and two bedrooms. The family of five is lead by a silverback called Ya Kwanza, who was born in Melbourne Zoo, and was the first gorilla to be conceived using artificial insemination. Ya Kwanza is the successor of Jambo the zoo's famous gorilla who changed the profile of gorillas around the world. The remaining members of the family are female. In 2007 the family suffered the loss of the youngest gorilla Ya Pili.
One of the plans for the future is a new larger Gorilla complex, allowing for a larger family, top rated facilities and a chance to start familiarising the species with others they would come across in the wild
New World Monkeys
In two locations of the park, visitors can find two collections of tamarins. Unlike the other tamarins further down, these are kept enclosed.
Golden Lion Tamarin
Golden-headed Lion Tamarin
The Central Valley, expands across the centre of the park, creating a natural barrier and water resource for local species.
Grey Crowned Crane
A £1 million project to redevelop the central valley, completed in 2002, has created a haven for kingfishers, bank voles, butterflies, dragonflies and several species of waterfowl. During the valley restoration two species of locally rare orchid were encouraged, and first flowered in 2005. They are Loose Flowered-orchid and Southern Marsh-orchid.
Dotted around the Central Valley are a number of aviaries which house a selection of birds from different parts of the world. The aviaries are specialised to reflect habitat the birds should become adapted to should they be released back into the wild. The are large enough for them to fly short distances, or search the ground for food.
Northern Bald Ibis
St Lucia Amazon
White-winged Wood Duck
In an enclosure which was revamped in the 1990s the orang utans have a large outdoor play area for them to swing around. The enclosure consists of one large main house, with two extensive external islands surrounded by a moat. The orangutan family have been in Durrell since 1968, and come from Sumatra. Durrell used to have the Bornean orangutans, until it was decided that Durrell should focus on the rarest when the redevelopment took place. The dominant male is called Dagu. Sharing the island play areas is a pair of white handed gibbons, George who is black and Hazel who is light brown.
- Sumatran Orangutan 1968-
- Lar Gibbon 1997-
Since 1964 Durrell have been working with the macaque family, in the same location, just to the side of the valley. The family have bred well, though events in Sulawesi, counter balances the work in Durrell.
The Maned Wolves have been in Durrell since 2001, having replaced the prezewalski horses. The wolves are shy and keep to themselves, and are more likely to be seen in the small hours of the day.
White-faced Whistling Duck
As part of their training for the wild, tamarins and marmosets are given an outdoor area to practice climbing around in the trees in the valley.
- Silvery Marmoset 1973-
- Black Lion Tamarin 1990-
At the far end of the zoo, visitors can see the lemurs of Madagascar, in large open enclosures, offering great opportunity of them to manoevre (sicsic), and local trees to climb.
- Red Ruffed Lemur 1982-
- Alaotran Gentle Lemur 1990-
- Red-fronted Brown Lemur 2008-
The fruit bats are located in a number of locations, the livingstone fruit bat is found in large long tunnel, near the organic farm and apple orchard. The rodrigues species can be found in the Cloud Forest, in an old building near the central valley, and in the long tunnel with the livingstone species.
- Rodrigues Flying Fox 1976-
- Livingstone's Fruit Bat 1992-
Manor Gardens and Outbuildings
Les Augres manor is the residential property of Lee Durrell, and also includes offices of the trust. Many of the outbuildings are used as animal enclosures, storage facilities, food preparation areas and research areas for the animals and staff.
Black-and-White Ruffed Lemur
Malagasy Giant-Jumping Rat
African Pygmy Goose
In April 2009, the Meerkat family are going to be moved to a new exhibit which is currently under construction. The new home is named Discovery Desert and is intended to be a mixed species exbibit, and is the first of three developments taking place in 2009 as part of Durrell's Its Time 50th Anniversary celebrations. The move is the first step in the New Vision plans. Meanwhile the meerkats old home in the Manor Gardens will be incorporated as part of a Madagascan Garden showcase.
Later in the year Yellow Mongooses are set to arrive as part of the Discovery Desert, with another unrevealed species arriving in the summer. It is not said whether they will be part of Discovery Desert or part of the Madagascan Gardens.
In January 2008 plans were unveiled by Durrell and were titled New Vision. They were brought up to help ensure another 50 years of the trust in Jersey. These ambitious plans have an emphasis on the notion of 'TopSpots'. Places where the greatest diversity of animals are found such as islands and highlands. It is budgeted that the cost of the redevelopment would be in the region of £46 million pounds over the next five years. All funds need to be raised through public and private donations. There are nine main aspects of development with animal welfare in its mind.
- African Bai "? The idea is to recreate an environment mirroring the ecology of the African Habitat, that the Western Lowland Gorillas would need to adapt to, if one day it would be safe for them to be left alone in the wild. The multi-million pound complex would include a gym and updated facilities for the gorillas. The family size can expand, or have an additional group to live alongside the current group. With the African Bai theme, it is planned to bring in new species from the region, considered animals include Red River Hog, African Clawless Otter, and guernon monkeys.
- Mascarenia "? The idea is to integrate the mammals, birds and terrapins of Madagascar together in one walkthrough enclosure. It is also possible that species from Mauritius, Comores and Seychells might be included. Surrounding the walkthrough area, which will include the bats, are enclosures which will house the lemurs, aye-ayes, narrow striped mongoose and giant jumping rat.
- A new visitor centre, which is designed to enhance the guests overall experience. A restaurant, and a hall of fame will become part of the experience.
- Eco-lodge cabins, which will allow people to stay at Durrell for a holiday, all environmental modern experience
- New Reptile and Amphibian Centre, which will allow Durrell to expand and enhance the care for species more prone to the changing environment
- Redevelopment of Les Augres manor, allowing people to stay there for holidays, by turning part into a kind of hotel
- Improvements to Training facilities
- Improvements to the veterinary centres
- Develop the Royal Pavilion into a full time conference suite
Statue of Gerald Durrell with a Black-and-white Ruffed Lemur, April 2008
Durrell began his career capturing animals for other zoos, but thought that the facilities needed to concentrate more on animal conservation rather than mere entertainment. He tells the story of starting the zoo in his book "Menagerie Manor".
Jambo was a gorilla who was born in 1961, in Basel, Switzerland. Jambo shot to international news stardom overnight on 31 August 1986, when five year old Levan Merritt fell into the gorilla enclosure and lost consciousness. Jambo stood guard over the boy when he was unconscious, placing himself between the boy and other gorillas in what ethnologists analyze as a protective gesture. He later stroked the unconscious boy. When the boy regained consciousness and started to cry, Jambo and the other gorillas retreated, and an ambulance paramedic and two keepers rescued the boy. Most of the drama was shot on home video by Brian Le Lion, and extensively photographed by other zoo visitors. The publicity on major news channels and newspapers helped the reputations of gorillas.
Proof that conservation does work, some species have returned home for continuation of programmes to reintroduce them to their own environment
In 1976 there were only four individuals in the wild with one female. Durrell took the risk of taking a recent clutch of eggs and had them hatched successfully - rebuilding the species, almost from scratch. The conservation for the species has moved on to the next stage and its focus has returned to Mauritius, re-establishing the species in the community and ecosystem.
With the newly established wild population of these species, originally extinct from the wild the zoo was part of the coalition of 'zoos' which together brought the species from the brink of extinction. Since the recent phase of the recovery includes introducing them to the wild, it can be assumed the Jersey pair were part of this in 2000.
Work in Jersey
Helping the local species Durrell is also working closely with local wildlife groups to help with the declining populations of Jersey's Sand lizard and the Jersey Crappaud / Common Toad.
Local rare and declining plant propagation
A long way from the usual animal conservation work at Durrell. Aim is maintain the genetic diversity of the locally rare plants. Currently four species are being grown in the propagation unit. Fragaria vesca or Wild Strawberry, Dianthus gallicus or Jersey Pink, Anogramma leptophylla or Jersey Fern and Linaria vulgaris or Common Toadflax. Other plant species will be propagated as seed or cutting material becomes available. As some of these plant species are so severely threatened, just finding specimens for propagation will be a real challenge.
Although no longer located in Jersey, conservation is still monitored by Durrell in Assam India and other locations. The species is still in dire need of funding and help. During 2008 some pygmy hogs were released into the wild in Assam, early reports show good progress with the species
Hitting headlines recently is some success in Grand Cayman with the Blue Iguana. Working alongside local authorities the iguana is being saved from extinction. It shows what can be done. In 2008 the project suffered a drawback when mindless thugs broke into the complex and masacred numberous iguanas including juviniles and expecting females.
Previously thought extinct, (found when looking for something else), Durrell have recently teamed up with Madagascar to help research and study the species. With scouts unable to locate more individuals, it has become a possibility that experts will have to bring the survivors back to Jersey, using expertise from the Madagascar Teal and Meller's Duck to help the duck get back from the brink
In 1995 was dubbed the world's rarest snake. More recently the species have been relocated back to Antigua on some islands where they are free from predators and pests.
- Mauritius Olive White-eye
- White-footed tamarin
- Ploughshare Tortoise
- Round Island day gecko
- Round Island skink
- Round Island boa
- Mangrove Finch
- Mauritius Fody
- Giant Hispaniolan Galliwasp
- Cuban Solenodon
- Parma Wallaby 1967-2008
- Trinidad Stream Frog
- Green and Black Poison Dart Frog
- Standing's Day Gecko
- Red-eared Slider
- Plumed Basilisk
- Snow Leopard
- Snowy Owl
- White-eared Pheasant
- Bornean Orangutan
- Volcano Rabbit
- African Lion
- Tapirs (possibly Brazilian Tapirs)
- Humboldt Penguin
- African Elephant
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