So, 3 whole years since the team from Cumbria Zoo Company sat in Barrow Town Hall for the day, demonstrating and ultimately proving, that we deserved our very own license to take over the running of Safari Zoo.

We’ve made some amazing progress over the past 3 years, with many pawesome developments of enclosures – the Giraffe hardstand for Kofi and Ekundayo, the new Walkthrough Meerkat Enclosure, we’ve been joined by some new residents both born here at the zoo like Tink and Pan’s cubs Nila, Reva, Tick & Tock and new additions from other zoos like Reindeers Cinnamon & Treacle and Canada Lynx boys Saguenay, Lowe, Logan and Nuna.  We’ve sadly said tearful goodbyes to too many favourites along the way, Giraffes Tibor and Bo, Lion Shikar and Andean Bear Snoopy.

Many of the team have been with us throughout the challenges faced in getting our license, some have joined since – we asked members of the team for their best memories and events of the last 3 years and their worst.

Vicky (Sales Manager) – been with the Zoo for 4 years

Let’s start with the low points, losing Tibor, that was a very hard day, as you all know I am not the best with animals as I am even scared of a bird and a fish! But Tibor was something else, he was just the best, but every negative has a positive, we then transformed the cafe and renamed it after him, so we will never forget him.
High points of working at the Zoo, the day we got the licence is one I will never forget, it was a nervous day for everyone but with the hard work we put in it was well deserved. What we have achieved in 3 years is amazing, new enclosures, conservation projects, the birth of lots of new animals,and how the company has grown in general is heading the right way. Being back working with the the visitors has been a high for me and just to finish off my worst day will be if I have to face my fear and walk in that aviary!

Marcus (Maintenance Team) – Been with the Zoo for 5 years

It’s been a pleasure to be part of the team, it’s been an awesome journey since we took over, my high point is where we took over and gained our license for the future of the animals with so many changes for the better and still more to come.  The low point was dealing with the fallout because of the zoo’s history.  Altogether it’s been a bumpy ride but an awesome one!  Cant wait to all be together again for the celebration, I’m missing everyone and our animals

Diane (Admissions)

There are so many best bits – Pan and Tink raising two sets of cubs. The new meerkat enclosure opening, the Christmas Celebrations of 2019……the list goes on!

Karen (CEO) – Been with the Zoo for 18 years

My highs and lows are going to all merge into one so apologies, without doubt loosing any animal is the worst of days and loosing Snoopy our Andean Bear was for me the worst,  loosing Tibor our male giraffe and then even worse was the day we opened our fantastic new giraffe area without him.

Of course getting the licence was a high I have never felt so scared as that day becasue rightly we had desserved the licence we met the standards needed,  but your life is in the hands of other people but so many people put their reputations on the line for us that day and the days leading up,  and at the end of it all a very wise inspector said to me “congratulations and now the hard work begins”.  And wasn’t he right !

A strange high has to be this time of temporary closure due to COVID  – realising just how much support is out there has been at times overwhelming. But for me working with this fabulous team and watching them work through and rise above all the negativity some of it very personal and see them grow and develop into fantastic managers and staff all representatives of all we stand for.  Every time we plan something, build something, every time something is born, something recovers from treatment, every time something doesn’t but we know we have done all we possibly could, every time a kid sends in a drawing, every school group through the door, every time someone posts us a nice comment, every time someone says ” somethings struggling in the wild what can we do to help” … just all of it every minute of every day.

Kim (Company Director & Animal Manager) – Been with the Zoo for 9 years

The worst time was losing My Boys, Tibor and Bo.  It’s been hard dealing with the negativity surrounding the history of the zoo before we took over.The highlights are definitely getting the license and the awesome team that I am part of, they always have my back, are always there through the good and the bad and hopefully I repay that too.  I love reading the positive and good reviews and comments that we keep getting and in my role, my key highlight has been bringing the lynx boys in earlier this year.

Michael (Senior Keeper, Kim’s number two) – Been with the Zoo for 3 years 

The worst days for me have been losing Shikar and the Giraffe Boys.  Bringing in the Lynx and being part of designing their enclosure, seeing the new developments and enclosures like the Giraffe hardstand, the Meerkats and even non-animal related developments like Tibor’s Restaurant.

Saskia (Animal Keeper and awesome cake maker) – Been with the Zoo for 1 year

Hey! I have loved being part of Joao, Stanley and the tortoises settling in to their new exhibit. They have become a big part of my zookeeping life and the trust and bonds I have with them is one of my favourite things. This wouldn’t have been possible without the people I work with. The staff are a little community, we support each other day to day, in and outside of work. We’re colleagues, neighbours and friends x

Anna (Company Director, H&S Officer) – Been with the Zoo for 13 years

3 years has come around so quickly, people have left the team, people have joined the team and we continue to make Safari Zoo, the place we always set out to achieve! High and low points outweigh each other, but here is a few that really stick out apart from the obvious ‘License day’ which will always be hard to beat our first ‘half term’ of 2017 as we saw our highest visitor numbers. We were kind of unprepared for the numbers but the weather and the team work made sure we got through it and I have to say the bar was set for how well the team can work together! Everyone mucked in and we made sure it was a half term no one would forget.

Animal Babies – being able to see the animals everyday is amazing in itself, but seeing them give birth to offspring is something you can never overshadow! We have seen Rhino, Zebra, Wolf, Lemur, Primate, Bird, Red Panda babies over the last 3 years and to be part of that is most certainly awesome!

The first 2 years were tough, trying to build back the respect, the support and the trust of our visitors, followers and supporters again following the negative press and perception that stayed and still today over shadows the hard work the team put in. Losing animals will always be a low point for any of us at the zoo. Natural causes and uncontrollable illnesses do happen and it is heartbreaking. But this is why we are here, to make sure all our animals can continue to be species ambassadors and we can help keep these animals, safe, healthy, and comfortable.  Since January 2017 there has been a quote living on the wall of the main office which reads;​

‘Be strong enough to let go and patient enough to wait for what you deserve’

So we are strong and we will be patient, because we do deserve it!

Ian (Maintenance Manager) – Been with the Zoo for 6 years

The best bits for me are getting to a point where we could start to invest in equipment and materials and start building new, renovating and rebuilding existing enclosures and updating the zoo.  The low points have been getting to that point – it’s taken a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears and a lot of determination to win back the trust of the public.

Sam (Events & Marketing) – Been with the Zoo for 3 years

The worst times for me are definitely when we lose any animal.  We’ve lost Shikar, Bo, Tibor and Snoopy all within the past 3 years – all such big characters and loved by everyone – and those for me are definitely the worst days.  It’s been hard at times dealing with the criticism from people, often whom have never visited and negativity and/or personal attacks from those who refuse to believe things have changed immensely, all we can do is carry on and make Safari Zoo the best it can be and that is exactly what we are doing.

Best bits – there are so many!  Looking around at all our developments and knowing they are OURS – designed, built and decorated by OUR team and I love that all of us get to have a say and some input; the new Lynx enclosure, the new giraffe hardstand, the Meerkat enclosure; the excitement of babies being born (from Panda Cubs to ducklings – it’s the best time of year); the arrival of the Reindeers and the Lynx; seeing animals move on to form their own families.  I love being part of the zoo team and knowing the amazing work that each and every person connected does, how much people care and how much we are all driven – this is not a job, it’s not a 9 to 5 every weekend off deal, it’s a life choice and a purpose.

Ahmed (Standards Manager) – Been with the Zoo for 5 years

Definitely getting the license is the high point.  I love the challenge each and every day.  It’s been a lot of hard work to get to where we are now but it’s been totally worth it.

Paula (Gift Shop Manager) – Been with the Zoo for 11 years

The highlights for me are getting commended on the licensing follow up, also the little everyday moments of joy when you make someone’s day or see something amazing.  My low points are definitely every time we lose an animal – especially the loss of Shikar, Bo and Tibor.