60 Years of Colchester Zoo

2023 is set to be a BIG year for as we celebrate 60 years of Colchester Zoo. We will be hosting a number of celebrations throughout the year, including introducing some exciting new arrivals and a summer packed with Wild Vibe Wonderland entertainment.

L- R: Old Zoo Map. Punch and Judy display on lawn. Rajang at Colchester Zoo.

A whole lot of history… In 1963, Colchester Zoo was first established by Zoologists Frank and Helena Farrar in the grounds of Stanway Hall Park. The site was around 25 acres in size and contained a small collection of animals ranging from lions to kangaroos. The purchase of the Stanway Hall Estate was the realisation of a lifetime’s ambition for the owners. Helena Farrah acted as the Zoo curator during this period, becoming the first female curator in Europe. In 1983, Colchester Zoo changed hands and was taken over by the present owners, the Tropeano family. Therefore 2023 also marks 40 years with the current owners.
Over the years, Colchester Zoo has been home to many iconic species, but in 2018 we were left devastated by the loss of one of our oldest residents, Rajang the Orangutan. Not only will we be celebrating 60 years of Colchester Zoo, but also our dearest friend, Rajang, who is now embedded in the history of Colchester Zoo since arriving in 1980. Rajang would have celebrated his 55th birthday in 2023 on the 14th June. He was a firm favourite amongst generations of staff and visitors and will be at the forefront of our Zoobilee birthday campaign!

Although Rajang was not a pure Bornean orangutan he represented them and was an ambassador for the species. Bornean orangutans are classed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so we are proud to remember Rajang, as well as raise awareness of our current orangutan residents, Tiga, Mali and Tatau, as part of our 60th celebrations. This will help to highlight the conservation of this incredible species and the ecological impact the world is currently facing.

60th Anniversary Souvenir Book

Find out more about the future of Colchester Zoo along with memories of the last 60 years in our NEW limited-edition Souvenir Book! PLUS learn more about incredible species of the past and present!

Colchester Zoo Rocks

‘Colchester Zoo Rocks’ was a local school community project that we put together to commemorate our 60th anniversary in 2023.

For ‘Colchester Zoo Rocks’ each participating school painted stones which, on return to the zoo, have been added to a commemorative garden located at the entrance. The theme for the art was the Zoo and its 60th anniversary; which could be a favourite animal or special memory.

The Future of Colchester Zoo

It is with great pride that we announce, as of January 2025, the Zoo will become a charitable trust, known as Colchester Zoological Society.

We hope that the Zoo of the future here in Colchester will be one that the local community will be proud of. We strongly believe that this vision will secure a future which will allow us to achieve our mission and revolutionise the Zoo as we know it today.

Newsletter Signup

Sign up to our newsletter for all the latest deals, news and more!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter