Gerald Durrell (1925-1995) founded and opened to the public Jersey Zoo in 1959. He was a man who from childhood had a love for all creatures great and small. He did not get on well at school and eventually became home schooled that allowed him to flourish and develop his love for animals when the family lived on the Island of Corfu.
For Gerald Durrell, the zoo was not to be a place where animals were to be displayed just for the entertainment of the public. His zoo was to be a place of research and for the conservation of endangered species. That ethos is still there today and expressed through the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
Jersey Zoo covers 32 acres (13 hectares) and concentrates on the smaller endangered species so there are no elephants, giraffes or big cats. You will find, Andean Bears, reptiles, birds, gorillas, various monkeys, meerkats, bats, aye-ayes and other creatures. The setting is beautiful and is used to attract local wildlife as well as create as natural as possible areas for the resident animals. There are a wide variety of trees particularly through the central valley with woods and lakes that create this wonderful environment, not just for the animals but for the human visitors too.
A great detail of attention is given to each animal to make sure that they thrive in the right environment and live with creatures that they would normally cohabit with in the wild. Keepers give scheduled talks throughout the day and you can tell from their enthusiasm that they love the work they do. They also explain that they are part of a wider project to provide protection to future generations of these creatures on our planet. If you visit the zoo do make sure that you attend these talks as you will learn so much about the animals that it will enhance your appreciation for the zoo and the work the conservation trust does.
There is a lot to see at the zoo despite on initial approach it may appear small. Please do make sure you go into each of the special areas such as the Kirindy Forest which is based on the dry forests of Madagascar. Birds are flying around in here (they can't escape as long as you don't open all the doors at the same time) and enclosed under a netted area. There are some very colourful and beautiful birds to see.
Andean Bears also known as Spectacled Bears
Another area that has been created is the Cloud Forest where you can see the Andean Bears (sometimes known as Spectacled Bears) from South America which is an endangered species that Jersey Zoo is working hard to preserve.
I have visited Jersey Zoo twice now, just recently and the previous time 20 years ago. If I lived in Jersey I would enjoy regular visits without doubt as it really is a pleasant place to visit not just to see the animals but also the trees and plants too. The restaurant can provide you with a very good lunch making the day even better!
I know that a lot of people are opposed to zoos in general and I too would rather have animals living where they should in their own natural environment. However, we have to face the fact that many animals are now seriously in danger of becoming extinct due to habitat destruction, pollution, and hunting. The Durrell Wildlife Trust is doing sterling work to protect animals and for this, they should be applauded and supported.
If you should have the opportunity to visit Jersey then do schedule a day to go to Jersey Zoo and you will certainly enjoy it and learn something new.