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MEMORIES OF THE DAYS OF BARRY ZOO.

Byline: Peter Collins

SOME colourful characters have called Barry their home. In the first of a two-part series, Peter Collins looks at two of the most interesting.

THOSE who were there are unlikely to forget the council meeting when Barry Zoo owner George Palmer led an almost fully grown tigress into the room.

The headline-grabbing incident at Barry Memorial Hall in May, 1977, came at a time when the zoo was under increasing financial pressure and facing possible closure.

George and his twin brother Hugh had opened the zoo in 1960. It was the first in Wales and drew people from around the Principality.

But a lack of support from councils and other public bodies meant the brothers were finding it increasingly difficult to keep it going.

They eventually sold it in 1980 and it is now the Welsh Hawking Centre.

The brothers, aged 75, still live close to the site of the zoo and are kept busy breeding ponies and training and breeding shepherd dogs. They founded the Alsatian Club of Wales in 1951.

Looking back at the glory days of the zoo, George said:

"We had coachloads of school pupils from Barry, Pontypridd and the Valleys visiting us.

"On many occasions the road would have to be closed because there was so much traffic."

He said: "We travelled the country for animals. On one occasion I brought a lion back from Sheffield in a milk float."

The Cardiff-born brothers had always been interest in animals, sometimes cycling to Bristol Zoo.

George said: "I told my brother that one day we would have a zoo in Wales.

But I never thought we would start it ourselves."

Hugh, who now creates oil paintings as a hobby, said: "It was tough running the zoo.

"We started from nothing and worked day and night at it. We really had no support from anyone, including the councils and the tourist board. That was our biggest problem.

"But they were great days that we will never forget."

Do you have fond memories of Barry Zoo?

Please send your memories to South Wales Echo Districts, Thomson House, Havelock Street, Cardiff, CF10 1XR. Alternatively, send an email to: echo. district news@wme. co. uk.

Don't miss tomorrow's Echo for more pictures of Barry Zoo.

CAPTION(S):

ANIMAL LOVERS Left and above, brothers George and Hugh Palmer with some of their animals at the former Barry Zoo. Above right, the brothers as they are today.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 29, 2002
Words:408
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