Celebrating 60 Years of Colchester Zoo

2023 is set to be a BIG year for Colchester Zoo as it celebrates its 60th anniversary. We will be hosting a number of celebrations throughout the year, including introducing some exciting new arrivals and a special party on the 2nd June 2023, to mark the zoo’s official birthday!

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 Farrah 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.

As well as a year packed with celebratory events, we will also be releasing a range of special 60th birthday memorabilia to mark this joyous occasion, in our Outpost Gift Shop. Exclusive items include a limited edition puzzle, a special Zoo Pass and a historical souvenir guide to name a few.  

Limited Edition Zoo Pass

Buy your Annual Zoo Pass now and receive a special edition pass to commemorate our 60th anniversary! Best of all, you’ll be able to visit as many times as you like through the year and join in our special events!
Terms & Conditions apply

BIG Birthday Bash

Join us for our birthday bonanza on Friday 2nd June 2023, as we celebrate turning 60! Our special birthday is bursting at the seams just like our party balloons and is packed party vibes. Plus we will also have a Zoobilee Party with a closing time of 8:30pm.

Colchester Zoo Rocks

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

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

Join us throughout 2023, with a calendar packed with fun-filled events to help celebrate our birthday.

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