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Glasgow Zoo

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Glasgow Zoo tiger, anon, undated
Glasgow Zoo tiger

Glasgow Zoo closed on August 23, 2003.

The image of the tiger seen to the right was uploaded with no information other than the file name.

As of January 2005, the zoo grounds remain and there are still a number of the smaller animals such as llamas, ponies and ostriches on the site, although the majority of the building have been decimated by local vandals.

The were two car park areas to the front of the zoo. One has been fenced off, while the other has recently been developed as a block of luxury flats.

The main entrance was just off nearby Hamilton Road, where these signs faced the road. Shortly after they were recorded, the multicolour sign painted on the stone wall was eradicated when it was painted over with dark brown paint, to match the wall.

The ground to the rear of the zoo is separated from from it by a single layer of standard, temporary security fencing, while the original double boundary fence remains on the other sides, although access panels have been cut into these.

The ground outside the zoo is currently being graded and levelled for development, with sewer pipes etc stored nearby, ready for installation.

A visit to the area on January 14, 2005, to determine if there was any access to the zoo, found the rear gate was burst an lying open. It was noted that the adjacent hall in Broomhouse Park (the gate is just inside the park) had just had flat roofing work completed, and the contractors had used the open gate as handy access to dump their waste materials.

This led to an impromptu visit and photo opportunity. Some pictures are rather poor, as the time of visit meant the day was dull and the trees robbed most of the available light.

From the gate, the path leads uphill and past the Wildlife Garden.

The pond with footbridge.

One sign still hangs on the Wildlife Garden fence.

The track leads past various vandalised, demolished and burnt enclosures.

Next, the remains of the Tropical House. Again, vandalised and destroyed. The interior was not investigated, but looked unsafe as the floor could not be seen for wreckage. All around, the ground was strewn with documents and books that had clearly been used by the zoo staff, both for reference and in the running of the zoo. The blue pipe crossing the pics is a water supply the builders have installed for their works site at the rear of the zoo grounds.

This Portacabin sits along from the Tropical House and behind the ruined enclosures seen above.

Down the hill from the Tropical House, there is a closed off compound. The door was ajar, and a number of unknown, but fairly large, animals could be seen running around inside, so this was not approached. To the rear of this area, a building with a caged opening was seen, and an ostrich could be seen moving within.

One of the enclosures to the front of the Tropical House contained a llama and a couple of small animals, similar to goats.

Behind this enclosure was the Souvenir Shop

The first building visitors would have seen after entering.

Looking back to the rear of the original entrance, there is an enclosure with a few small Shetland Ponies.

And a last look towards the rear of the entrance.

By this time, the noise was increasing from the compound where the unidentified animals had been seen running around earlier, so discretion and self-preservation began to take hold, and a quiet exit was made so as to avoid attraction attention.

In some ways, I was neither surprised nor disappointed to find that there were still animals on the zoo site after more than a year had passed since its closure was forced. Despite the outwardly good intentions of the organisations referred to above, all too often they smugly announce the success of their activities, in this case the zoo closure, while leaving others to pick up the resulting fallout.

On a positive note, the animals seen, and their enclosures were clean, so they are being looked after for the moment.


A pass of the ground in early 2008 showed that the wrought iron gates had been completely trashed by vandals, and the original gatehouse burnt out. All evidence of the cabin that stood behind the entrance, and where visitors purchased their tickets, was noted to have been removed, and the area is now completely overgrown.


In November 2007, news items were noted reporting that Edinburgh Zoo was seeking a potential site for establishing a satellite animal park, and Glasgow Council was willing to offer whatever assistance it could. However, it also seem that Edinburgh Zoo has just had plans to sell land to a developer blocked by Edinburgh Council, a sale which was part of a £72 million plan to expand the zoo. It's more than likely that the zoo's owners are using Glasgow Council as little more than a pawn to gain an advantage over Edinburgh Council, with the threat of having their operation shared with a Glasgow based site.

Review from he Good Zoo Guide Online The Good Zoo Guide Online, dating to Spring 1992, which will probably be deleted from the web at some point, since the zoo no longer exists.

Review Update by Graham Law: November 2000:

Dear Sir, Enjoyed my visit to your site. I thought that visually it looked good and in general thought the idea of having such a site available was excellent. The information that you have in place regarding Glasgow Zoo however is rather out of date. The cat collection has been very much reduced and only Cheetah, Tiger and Lion are now present on site. The cat-house has ceased to be used for cats and the Margay, Geoffroy cats, Ocelots and Leopards have been moved out of the collection. This all happened about four or five years ago when all the cat section staff were made redundant as part of a cost cutting strategy. As one of the keeper that was made redundant I was surprised to read today about the good cat collection at Glasgow as unfortunately in the case of the smaller cats it no longer exists. Best wishes Graham Law

Good Zoo Guide Review:

Just south-east of Glasgow by the great road North (now the M74), Glasgow Zoo occupies an attractive rolling, parkland, site. This is despite the urban sprawl that lies to one side, and the industrial sprawl of Lanarkshire that spreads out to the other. Somehow there is a park here, Calderpark, on a heavily wooded hillside, by the banks of North Calder Water, with views looking out over tree tops and down the river valley.

The Calderpark Estate, once farmland worked by Cistercian monks, was bought by the Zoological Society of Glasgow and West of Scotland in 1939. The splendid nineteenth century mansion that once dominated the estate had been demolished almost a decade earlier, after subsidence from underground coal mines had made the building unsafe. It was a perfect setting for the zoo that the young Zoological Society planned to construct; and its aim would be to provide for the people of Glasgow a wildlife spectacle of the sort that had been available to the citizens of Edinburgh since 1909.

It took eight years to fund, design, build, and stock the new zoo. The first director was Sidney Benson, and he opened the zoo to the public in 1947. The scale of the zoo was never likely to be as ambitious as Edinburgh’s, and like so many institutions on the West of Scotland it grew for many years in the shadow of its more prestigious Edinburgh counterpart. But grow it did, and the land it now occupies gives it room for even more growth, down into the valley and alongside the ox-bow loch.

Additional land, now being developed for the zoo, was formerly a rubbish tip and landfill site for demolished Glasgow tenements when the new director of the Society, Richard O’Grady, took up his post at Calderpark Zoo. For a while this led to a curious problem of infestation - curious for a zoo at least - with the most abundant mammal on Earth after man, the brown rat; the problem was solved by a capable posse of fox terriers, along with more conventional methods of pest control. Today, according to the guidebook, Glasgow Zoo is a ‘fast developing and forward-looking zoo’, and it does seem as if the zoo in recent years has been virtually rebuilt, starting with basic services - drains, water, electricity and new tarmac pathways, and extending to large new paddock areas and new animal houses. The rebuilding is sorely needed in many places, where some rather old-fashioned cages no longer really represent the new mood of the zoo.

The highlight of the collection here are the bears, the cats, primates, and reptiles. The cat house, although small, has some beautiful and fascinating species, and has had good breeding successes with leopard and jaguar. Today there are margays, clouded leopards, caracals, and Geoffroy’s cats here too. The cat dens are not large, but are carefully branched with wood chips on the floors. Grassy enclosures house the lions, tigers and cheetahs. The tiger fields are imaginatively landscaped, and the cheetah enclosure has an excellent high platform where the cheetah can sit, high above the wire netting, proudly surveying the whole zoo and looking superb.

The monkey house is one part of the zoo that clearly needs rebuilding. It holds white-throated capuchin monkeys from South America, and black macaques from the Pacific island of Celebes. The outside enclosures are adequate, but the inside accommodation is poor, and there is little use made of the dimension of height. From the monkey house the pathway leads down into the valley, past neat little paddocks with camels and geese, maras, rheas, and peacocks.

There is a spacious enclosure here for those most lovely of deer, the axis deer of India, but the paddock is heavily grazed, with very little grass. Barbary sheep are here too, in a sloping little enclosure quite suited to their capable climbing skills. There are mouflon, too, and collared peccaries in a good sized enclosure.

The reptile collection is housed in a large tropical house. It is a long, rectangular building, and the vivaria are built-in down each wall. The building is not a tropical house in the sense of a well planted free-flight hall, but it is the zoo’s largest building, and also contains the zoo’s offices. Nearby are some splendid giant tortoises from Aldabara, a remote little atoll in the Indian Ocean. They have one of the biggest giant tortoise enclosures in Britain.

Of the older sections of the zoo that still survives the new broom of Mr O’Grady and the army of job creation volunteers, the most notable is the thirty year old polar bear pit, now at last empty of polar bears. It is a very deep pit with high rockwork, but like polar bear pits around the country it attracted vociferous criticism, and when the last bear died in 1990, it was decided that no new bears would be brought in. Much better, in fact the undoubted highlight of Glasgow Zoo, is the new Himalayan black bear enclosure. This is an outstanding zoo exhibit, the culmination of a long and productive co-operation between the zoo authorities, several animal welfare societies, and Alloa Brewery, who provided some of the funding. The enclosure opened on 1st August 1988, and it won the Zoo Animal Welfare Award from the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare in 1989. It consists of a three-acre tract of woodland with well established trees, and some younger fir trees planted around. The whole area is terraced, and you may have to be patient and watchful to spot the bears if they have chosen to stay hidden. The compound is carefully landscaped; there are great pipes to hide in, huge rocks, mountains of sticks and branches, and a towering observation platform in the middle (similar to the cheetah pen), where the bears can look out over the zoo.

A second new enclosure that deserves mention is the big white rhino field, with its great muddy wallow, and its grassy, landscaped terrain. The pair of rhinos look well here, and there are high hopes that they might soon breed. The rhino house has extended into the elephant house, vacated while Glasgow’s only elephant, Kirsty, spends a long but hopefully productive vacation with Jubilee at Chester Zoo.

Overall, Glasgow Zoo has succeeded rather well in maintaining its mixed collection of animals during a period of major rebuilding and extension. The new bear enclosure must be one of the finest in Europe, and there seems to be a positive mood of regeneration about the place. To date, the conservation objectives of the zoo have been fairly low key, but as more of the land is developed, and more species are added, there is a real hope that some significant Red Data Book species will arrive here. All things considered, it looks as if the Glasgow and West of Scotland Zoological Society are at last providing for the people of Glasgow an exciting and developing zoological garden.


Glasgow Zoo is dead and buried after being forced to close in 2003, and the land at nearby Calderbank House became available for development after it was demolished. The land between the two has already been developed and has a shiny new housing estate on it.

Amazonia was apparently rescued as an attraction by M&D for their fairground inside Strathclyde Park (isn't this park supposed to be some sort of conservation area, does this description apply to a fairground which has developed into a permanent installation, together with with an massive adjacent tarmac car park?)

Being rescued at about around the same time as the zoo was finally forced to close its doors, Amazonia's new owners must have been overjoyed as they realised that the zoo's well established and popular Tropical House was to be swept away, removing any competition for their new attraction. Convenient.

Short video of the site

Zoo stats

Number of Species Number of Specimens
Mammals 30 143
Birds 10 41
Reptiles 39 335
Amphibians 1 1
Fish 15 30
Invertebrates 50 180
Totals 145 630
Annual number of visitors Number of staff Area in acres Association memberships
150,000 24 40 ISIS and FZG

Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald photo feature

In March 2017 the publication included an old gallery of pics collected in the former zoo area prior to its redevelopment as housing - Remember Glasgow Zoo? Here's what it looked like before the redevelopment.[1]

Photographs zoo - a set on Flickr, 2008. Retrieved April 24, 2013.

Flickr contains many visits to the zoo in the years after it was destroyed:


1 Remember Glasgow Zoo? Here's what it looked like before the redevelopment | Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald Retrieved 11 March 2018.

External links

Aerial views



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