Plants take centre stage at local zoos

(Last Updated On: September 18, 2017)

A national conservation conference has been held in the region. The three-day event brought together almost thirty zoo horticulturalists from across the country.

The British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums Plant Working Group Annual Conference was hosted jointly by Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts in Torquay and Newquay Zoo in Cornwall, the three zoos run by the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Supported by Suttons Seeds and Chief Rentals, the event ran from 5th to 8th September. The programme focused on biosecurity in zoo horticulture and landscaping small animal exhibits. During the conference, delegates visited Living Coasts, Newquay Zoo and Shaldon Wildlife Park, as well as touring the gardens at Torre Abbey and Paignton Zoo.

In addition to talks and presentations, people had the chance to take part in a practical group session on landscaping a small animal exhibit, with three groups working on three exhibits – birds, reptiles and small mammals.

Giles Palmer, Paignton Zoo’s Curator of Plants and Gardens, said: “The conference was a real success. Not only was it a chance for zoo horticulturalists to share best practice and discuss new challenges, it was also a chance to show off Devon and Cornwall to colleagues from all over the UK – and from as far afield as Gibraltar. With excursions to Torre Abbey, guest speakers from local National Trust gardens, and dinner overlooking the Bay, our delegates left with a real flavor of what the Westcountry can offer.

“Biosecurity is an alarming phrase. We hear about so many pests and diseases threatening our flora, from ash die back to sudden oak death, oak processionary moth to Asian longhorn beetle. These threats can have devastating effects on plant populations. This is why biosecurity, alongside sustainable procurement, is a growing part of any garden’s management plan.”Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity. For more information go to or ring 01803 697500.

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