37th Anniversary of Paradise Wildlife Park

Thu 1st April

Paradise Wildlife Park is celebrating its 37th anniversary this April 1st, 2021!

From once being known as Broxbourne Zoo or ‘the worst zoo in the UK’ it is remarkable to see that not only has Paradise Wildlife Park become such a sought-after zoo but also a community in itself. If you had arrived at Broxbourne Zoo, all you would find is some rubble and a lonely lion in a cage. Now you would find happy and healthy animals, surrounded by a dedicated team.

 

To celebrate Paradise Wildlife Park’s 37th Anniversary we have turned to the backbone of our zoo: the wonderful staff and volunteers. Without the dedication from the Paradise Wildlife Park teams, we would not have been able to grow into the park we are today. This mentality has been at the core of Paradise Wildlife Park since 1984. When the time called for everyone to work together to help Bobby the lion, office workers, coach drivers, neighbours all came together.

 

We spoke to Lynn Whitnall, CEO of Paradise Wildlife Park and Director of Zoological Society of Hertfordshire on her earliest memories of being at the park and how it has shaped her into the woman she is today.

  • What is your earliest memory of working at Paradise Wildlife Park? My first memory is Bobby the Lion spraying me on a hot summers day when I was working on the zoo.  My second memory is sleeping in the stable with the pot-belied pig as he was very unwell and needed a needle put into him to release the gases from his stomach overnight which was an absolute delight! As time went on building up what was the Pembridge Suite, running the weddings and Sunday carvery and then starting my first company, Pembridge Banqueting Ltd that ran alongside PWP.
  • How has Paradise Wildlife Park shaped you as a person? Passionate, caring and a family community I think sums up Paradise Wildlife Park.  I feel very proud of what has been achieved over the 37 years by our family and all the different teams and volunteers.  Also, our achievements with breeding, education and conservation around the globe but most of all seeing our visitors have good old family fun.

 

It is clear to say that these sentiments are also found in the different departments of Paradise Wildlife Park. There is a common misconception that zoos are run by keepers alone. However, this is not the case. Paradise Wildlife Park runs off a foundation of expert employees specialising in zoo keeping, gardens, maintenance, park services, catering and retail, and administration. Here are what the different departments had to say:

 

Lucy, Park Services: “The team here is like its own family. Working at Paradise Wildlife Park has made me more confident as a person”

 

Bethany, Zoo Keeper: “I love working for Paradise Wildlife Park because it’s a family run business. It is a very tight nit community here and we get to see the owners every single day, as well as be involved in decisions. We get to see Paradise Wildlife Park take part in conservation projects overseas and we get to work with many endangered animals here at the park every day too.”

 

Matt, Maintenance Team: “I love working at Paradise Wildlife Park because of the variety of work I get to do in a variety of places at the park, as well as working with the animals themselves. I also have the privilege to work with such fantastic people.”

 

Claire, Zoo Keeper: “I have been here at Paradise Wildlife Park for 25 years, starting at working experience level to now being a full time zoo keeper. It’s basically like a second family. All the staff, keepers and animals all work as one. I love working with such a variety of different animals, from hoofstock to reptiles and big cats, there’s always something to learn and enjoy”

 

Anna, Marketing: “Working at Paradise Wildlife Park has built my confidence not just as a marketing professional but also as a person as well. I feel very honoured to say that I have made life long friends, as well as excellent teammates. I love being able to promote such a wonderful message of animal welfare and conservation and education, while also making it fun and engaging for everyone”

 

It is quite clear to see that across the different departments at Paradise Wildlife Park, community, friendship and a love of animals has tied staff together into a brilliant unit of people. On our 37th anniversary we are here to celebrate these elements that make our park so special. From the park’s humble beginnings, that true passion for wildlife conservation and welfare has continued through the generations. We now need community, friendship and love for animals, more than ever. The UK has experienced an incredibly unexpected and difficult year with 2020 bringing COVID-19 and lockdowns, never before seen in our lifetime. During such awful times, community and friendship were the two lifelines that got the majority of us through it. Love for animals, however, is what kept our zoo afloat in 2020. Not just from our staff and volunteers but from our incredible supporters as well. We received food deliveries, amazing handwritten letters of support, donations to our Just Giving page, coverage in the press and fantastic engagement on our social media pages. Without all of your vital support, we would not be at a place where we can consider recovery for our park and look forward to our future.

 

Lastly, Lynn has this to say to our amazing supporters: If it was not for the commitment of our family and team, we would not be where we are today, and they should all be exceptionally proud of Paradise Wildlife Park and our charity work through the Zoological Society of Hertfordshire and The Big Cat Sanctuary. To our members, a huge thank you for their ideas, support, funding and donations.  Also, to the general public, especially for the support and donations through the past 12 months. We look forward to welcoming them back as we re-open.  It is so lovely to have a team around me that is so knowledgeable, passionate and caring.

 

We cannot wait to open up our gates on April 12th and welcome you all back to Paradise Wildlife Park. While we have been in the third (and hopefully final) lockdown we have been working hard to get the park ready for your return. The Land of the Tigers was only open for three weeks before we went into lockdown so make sure you check out our latest habitat. Once again, thank-you to all our fantastic supporters, members, staff and volunteers for getting us through 2020. Here’s to a fantastic 2021 and years ahead!

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