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Cleethorpes Zoo and Marineland

Updated on June 30, 2011

Cleethorpes Zoo and Marineland was located on Beach Road, Humberston about half a mile outside of Cleethorpes town, Lincolnshire, England. The zoo site was on 10 hectares of flat reclaimed land adjoining the sea. The two entrances faced the road. On the one side there was a drainage dyke and on the other an embankment road leading down to the sea. On the seaward side there was yet another large embankment.

The Zoo should not be confused with the 'Jungle Zoo' which was built on a nearby site some years after the closure of the Cleethorpes Zoo and Marineland. Some sources refer to the Jungle Zoo as Cleethorpes Zoo.

Cleethorpes Zoo and Marineland was somewhat special in the realm of British zoos in that it was purposely built. It was the first feature on the site and there was no country house or similar attached. The location could have been a good one except that raised embankments on two of the zoo sides meant that practically the whole zoo was 'vieweable' from the outside. Although attempts were made to mask viewing by the planting of trees, these never reached the required size or bulk during the life of the zoo. The Zoo first opened circa 1965 before finally closing in in 1978.

The zoo was neatly arranged with good roads and paths. Meandering through the middle was a series of small lakes housing the waterfowl collection. More often than not this had huge numbers of visiting birds from the Tetney marshes just down the coast.

The paddocks were located around the zoo perimeter and only broken by the Pets corner, Lion enclosure and Dolphinarium. The Australian walk through safari was more of a zoo central paddock.

Cleethorpes Zoo and Marineland Dolphin Pool 1968

The above shows one of the pools used for Dolphins at Cleethorpes. There were two of these, both manufactured out of fibre glass. Usually the one pool would house dolphins and the other would contain Californian Sealions (which bred twice). Sometimes when the dolphins were not in residence their pool would house Grey and Common seals. The pools were far from satisfactory for holding any of these species.

All pools were located outside. There was no cover for zoo visitors watching shows.

Transport To The Zoo

Species Held By The Zoo

Cleethorpes Zoo and Marineland was part of the Associated Pleasure Parks group of zoos. As such the animals in the collection were part of a bigger 'plan'. Animals were moved around between zoos and could not be said to belong to any particular one.

Such moves may have been determined by the season of the year or at the whim of the zoo director based in Yorkshire. Dolphins and other species may move to one of the three regular 'winter' zoos in the center of Leeds, Glasgow or Newcastle. In some instances they may not return to the 'home' zoo but go to another collection. Other moves may be to offer something 'new' in one of the other collections. There was no breeding plan, no conservation or education. This was pure commercial zoo.

Some animals were just temporarily held and located at Cleethorpes and were never officially on show. These included 'Calypso' the Killer Whale and a couple of Beluga Whales. Other species exhibited included Hippopotamus, Black Rhinoceros, Giraffe, Dromedary and Bactrian Camels, Reindeer, Arabian Gazelle, Yak, Chimpanzees, Orangutans, Silver Leaf Monkeys, Patas Monkeys, Californian Sealions, Elephant Seal, Dingos,. There was also a well stocked range of waterfowl ponds, a tropical house and a reptile house.

There were several elephants held too. There were two longer term Asian residents residing for more than a couple of years and a number of newly imported young animals held for just a few months.


Zoo Staff

Although the majority of the staff who were hired to work in Cleethorpes Zoo and Marineland were local there was a lot of staff movement. Primarily this was at the Curator level. Curators came from and to Flamingo Park Zoo, Dudley Zoo, Knaresborough Zoo, Stanley Zoo and others.

To a lesser degree the keeping staff moved also. These were more likely to be employees with experience in show presentation. For the most part the 'grass roots' staff in Cleethorpes Zoo and the other satelite zoos of the organisation were dedicated and caring animal people.

The End Of The Zoo

Cleethorpes Zoo and Marineland along with the other Associated Pleasure Parks collections passed through various company hands. It was at one time managed in part by the Cleethorpes council who carried out maintenance and gardening.

Irrational decisions to move certain species out of the zoo meant that the number of visitors dropped off also. The Giraffe went, then the Rhino followed closely by the Elephants. The breeding group of Red Kangaroos were to be replaced by Wallabies. The Humboldt Penguin enclosure it was thought would look better housing Mandarin Ducks....all males. The big cats were all moved out, as were the bears.

There was a name change too, to Cleethorpes Adventureland and Zoo.

All this led to a vicious circle which spelt out the inevitable end of the zoo.

After it was closed the site was briefly taken over by an entirely unrelated group who operated it as a circus type show. Even this folded, though more as a result of an argument between partners.


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