5th January 1973
Guernsey Zoo is sold as a going concern
Guernsey Zoo, which was once one of Guernsey’s most popular tourist attractions, was sold on 5 January 1973. The owners, Mr and Mrs Ronald Smart, had organised with Knight Frank and Rutley to market it to potential buyers for sale as a going concern.
The unusual advert for an “attractive fully furnished period house with six bedrooms” also listed a baby elephant, chimpanzees, baboons, bears, llamas and exotic birds housed in cages and aviaries, many of them heated for the winter, on a two-and-a-quarter acre site.
The sale also included a children’s farmyard, tea bar, gift shop, “piped music”, garages, and parking for 250 cars. Although the advert didn’t state a price, news reports surrounding its eventual sale said that it went for around £70,000.
The Zoo had been very successful in its time. It started work on a United Nations of wildlife in the 1960s, and in 1967 received a gift of deer and squirrels from Moscow Zoo on behalf of the government of the Soviet Union. The following year, it took in a four-month-old Himalayan bear that had been adopted by soldiers in Vietnam after its mother had been killed by flying shrapnel.
Perhaps its greatest success, though, had come with the 1967 birth of a parma wallaby which, according to the London Zoological Society, was possibly the first to have been successfully bred in captivity. This particular breed of wallaby was almost extinct, except on a 5000-acre island off New Zealand. It was later found to also be living on the eastern coast of Australia.
The zoo’s eventual closure (it became the Guernsey Bird Garden, which has also since closed down) left the Durrell Wildlife Park in Jersey as the only zoological establishment in the Channel Islands.