World War Zoo gardens
The World War Zoo gardens project at Newquay Zoo recreates a 1940s 'Dig For Victory' garden of the past, to engage visitors about issues of the future.
The project focuses on the lessons to be learnt for the future from the past experiences of how zoos and associated botanic gardens survived wartime challenges.
Zoos across the world suffered physical damage, closure, resource shortages, staffing problems and casualties, rationing and food security issues.
Responding to wartime challenges brought about novel solutions that are still used today such as adoption schemes, seed saving, public education and recycling campaigns, and market gardening.
Lawns and flowerbeds were dug up to plant food for animals and visitors. Past solutions to resource problems may be of help for our uncertain future.
Recreating a typical wartime zoo keepers’ allotment garden at Newquay Zoo has created the opportunity for zoo staff to:
- Provide fresh organic / unsprayed food for animal enrichment and feeding;
- Engage zoo visitors in informal, ‘over the garden fence’ discussions of difficult environmental issues such as climate change, food security, organic allotment gardening and recycling;
- Bring a family history and social history element into the zoo’s education and visitor programme, engaging many generations of our zoo visitors with fascinating animal and human interest stories from the 1940s;
- Promote the zoo to different audiences through press, social media and gardening networks.
The garden has been designed using 1940s techniques, plant varieties and artefacts. This has been based on research into original sources and archives, original magazines and personal accounts from Britain and further afield.
WINNER of BIAZA Award 2011 for Best use of plants in a landscape feature / design