Remembering Glasgow Zoo: The tragic story of the old Calderpark Zoo in pictures

Glasgow Zoo was a favourite day out for many Glaswegians back in the day - we look back over 20 years after its closure

Younger generations of Glaswegians may not remember, but for half a century, Glasgow had its very own zoo - the Calderpark Zoo.

The Glasgow Zoo shut down in August 2003 after years of struggling financially, by close of play they had incurred a debt of around £3.5m. Even in its own day, the zoo was very much overshadowed by the big boys over at Edinburgh Zoo - but who needs a penguin parade when you had a Polar Bear? Calderpark was much larger than its contemporary in Edinburgh, spread over 99 acres compared to the Capital's zoo at 82 acres.

Originally the zoo was meant to be set in Bellahouston Park in the South West of the city - though those funding the project disagreed, and eventually it was placed on the old Calderpark Estate in Baillieston - the land in the modern day mostly hosts new-build housing.

Calderpark was originally set up to coincide with the Empire Exhibition back in 1939 - although the onset of World War Two delayed plans - delaying the opening date to 1947. Interestingly, many of the enclosures were made from old materials from the war like old Anderston Air Raid Shelters and concrete roadblocks.

Animals at the zoo included Soay sheep from St Kilda and Lions from Dublin & London - some exotic animals were ex-pets donated by Glaswegians, including parrots and monkeys - as well as a range of mammals, birds, reptiles and farm animals. Stars of the show were the basking sharks, Indian peacocks, Asian black bears, white rhioceri, and golden eagles.

The zoo had coasted for around 40 years, growing thanks to public funding and donations, alongside huge visitor numbers - but by the 90s, things had started to reach a steady decline as funding began to dry up.

Desperate measures were called for - they failed to off any of the unused land from their 99 acres, and hired out some animals, which was widely criticised by animal welfare campaigners.

Things went from bad to worse as a report from Advocates for Animals (now OneKind) claimed the Calderpark Zoo was perpetrating animal cruelty amidst massive annual losses. To top things off, in 2002 a few break-ins saw the theft of two non-poisonous snakes and a parrot. That was the least of the zoos problems however, as allegations of animal cruelty came in as quickly as their debts mounted higher and higher.

The zoo shut earlier than predicted thanks to the massive debt - animals were relocated to zoos across the UK and beyond. Claims were made by the Zoological Society the zoo may re-open, albeit scaled down, but this never came to fruition.

Take a look below at some old pictures we gathered from The Scotsman archive - showcasing Calderpark Zoo at its very peak.

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