A time for reflection…

2019 in review

Baby Boom

2019 has got to go down in Colchester Zoo’s history for the baby boom that we experienced this year including the birth of some critically endangered big cats, some of which are a first for Colchester Zoo!

In June we excitedly announced that Amur tiger, Taiga, had given birth to 3 healthy cubs – 2 male and 1 female named Mischa, Pasha and Tatana. Taiga has proved to be a very attentive mum and has an amazing relationship with all 3 cubs who are now growing bigger and bigger daily!

In September we were then delighted to welcome into the world 2 Amur leopard cubs to mum Esra.  This is the first time that Colchester Zoo has bred Amur leopards and is also Esra’s first litter. Esra has taken to motherhood extremely well and both cubs are healthy and strong as she continues to do a fantastic job raising the pair who are confirmed as 1 male and 1 female named Luka and Lena.

These big cats face a number of threats in the wild and so these cubs are particularly important for both the Amur leopard and Amur tiger species with the leopards currently classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with only double figures remaining in the wild and the tigers listed Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

It is amazing to watch these endangered big cats grow each day and see each of their individual personalities come to life! However, it wasn’t just our big cats that were successful breeders this year as we had a number of other amazing births too!

Our Red pandas An An and Liwei had 2 female cubs in June named Kamala and Kalaiya. Liwei is an experienced mother as this is her 3rd litter with An An. Red pandas are classified as Endangered on the ICUN Red List so this birth is extremely important for their species.

Other births adding to our baby boom this year included Aardvark, Smooth coated otters, Humboldt penguins, Bush dogs and various primate births such as Titi monkey, Mandrills, Gelada baboons, Lemurs and more!

Conservation is at the heart of Colchester Zoo’s mission so these births are a great achievement and we continue to work to raise awareness of the plight of these beautiful animals in the wild.

The year isn’t over yet as have a White rhino calf due any moment now to dad Otto and mum Emily who has come to the end of her 16month pregnancy so watch this space as the heavy pitter patter of rhino feet is hoped to be heard soon! White rhinoceros are currently listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN red list so the breeding programme for this species is vitally important!

New Arrivals

As well as arrivals as a result of breeding success we also welcomed a number of new residents to Colchester Zoo via transfers from other zoos including some on breeding recommendations.

With Otto the male White Rhino’s reputation being a successful sire, we welcomed another White rhino named Binta from Knowsley Safari Park. Binta is settling in well & it is hoped that she may become another breeding female in the future.

In October we introduced a new species of primate as we saw the return of Barbary Macaques to Colchester Zoo for the first time in over 30 years. We have 2 males and 3 females who have all settled in well and it is hoped that they will form a breeding group to help with the vital conservation of this species who are sadly listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

Sad farewells

With the circle of life there’s happy times and sad times. In 2019 we sadly lost some big personalities some of whom had lived at Colchester Zoo for a number of years.

In May, Meg the shire horse sadly passed away. Meg was originally rescued by the World Horse Welfare in 2008 and came to live at Colchester Zoo in August 2009. Meg was 23yrs old and lived at the zoo for 10 years, she led a very happy life with us, had an adorable personality and was a firm favourite amongst visitors.

Early September we said a sad farewell to Pippin the Chimpanzee at 33yrs old, Pippin arrived at Colchester Zoo in 1992 at just 6yrs old. Our friend Pippin left behind a great legacy as during his time at Colchester Zoo he sired a young male chimp called Tumba with female Tekita who are both still with us today. He was a lovely chimpanzee with a great personality and is sorely missed every day.

It is always hard when we have to say goodbye to animals in our care as they build such strong bonds with staff and they all have their individual personalities which you cannot help but fall in love with. Despite this we have to look forward to what the future holds with the hope of further breeding success in the future.

New developments

Colchester Zoo is continually reinvesting into the park with both the animals and visitors in mind.

Back in September 2018 our construction team began work on the zoo’s main entrance to create a brand-new admissions building as part of phase one of our ticketing, admissions and shop redevelopment. On the 20th March 2019 the first phase of the project was completed and the new admission building and Outpost Gift Shop was opened. We believe that this is a vast improvement on our previous entrance and it has improved our visitors experience from the start of their visit to the end with the gift shop creating a first class shopping experience! 2020 will see the final phases of these developments completed with a new Coffee Lounge within The Outpost Gift Shop along with a new Ticket office & guest services facility linking into the Admissions building.

On animal enclosure developments, our Pygmy hippos home saw an extension as the previous Patas monkey enclosure was replaced with a new area for our hippos which has also added additional viewing for visitors. In the meantime, our Patas monkeys have been moved to Edge of Africa and now live with our Barbary Macaques.

In 2020 Penguin Shores is due a complete redevelopment therefore it will be closed for approximately 6 months when this work begins. Penguin Shores is an enclosure which is over 20yrs old now and although still one of the most popular enclosures, Colchester Zoo feel it is due a refresh. Find out more about this development here.

Colchester Zoo offers a full calendar of events throughout the year. Alongside our ever-popular Halloween and Christmas events, in October 2019 we hosted our very first Dino Day event! This day saw us welcome a number of dinosaurs including T-rex, Raptor and a Triceratops. Despite the extreme weather conditions, the team worked hard to make sure the event went ahead. As a result of the success of this event we’re pleased to say that Dino Day will be back in 2020!

Awards & Conservation

Colchester Zoo was delighted to have received a number of awards throughout 2019 including; Family Favourite Day Out from Raring to Go for a 3rd year running; Best Day Out Outdoors for the 6th consecutive year, Best Halloween event for the 4th consecutive year & Best Events for Breakfast with Santa and The Magic of Christmas for the 2nd consecutive year! We hope to continue this success and recognition of our dedication and hard work in 2020.


As always there is exciting news of animal arrivals and further new developments on the horizon for 2020 so do keep in touch with us on social media and via our website for the latest news and updates!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all the staff and animals at Colchester Zoo.

Don’t forget! January Blues is back! Visit for just £10.00 from the 30th December – 30th January. Find out more and book your tickets online here.

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