Amazona day for Cromer as new zoo opens

Norfolk's newest tourist attraction officially opened to the public on Saturday and is promising a wild time for visitors from near and far.Nearly 25 years after the old Cromer Zoo closed, on Christmas Day 1983, the long-anticipated Amazona Zoo is finally open to the public at the old brickworks, just off Hall Road, Cromer.

Norfolk's newest tourist attraction officially opened to the public on Saturday and is promising a wild time for visitors from near and far.

Nearly 25 years after the old Cromer Zoo closed, on Christmas Day 1983, the long-anticipated Amazona Zoo is finally open to the public at the old brickworks, just off Hall Road, Cromer.

Boasting a wide range of South American birds, fish and mammals, it promises to both wow the crowds and play an important role in conservation work to help protect a number of endangered species.

Tourism experts predict the zoo will prove a great asset to the town and say it is opening at just the right time to take advantage or changing holiday patterns and a downturn in the economy which will see more families holidaying closer to home.

Amazona was developed by Ken Sims, who has owned Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens, near Yarmouth, for more than 30 years.

He said his zoo proposal had always been warmly welcomed by people in Cromer and now he was hoping the attraction would help make a contribution to the town.

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He said: “My first impression of the Hall Road site was that it was the right one and I am very pleased with the result.

“We have the clay pits, the woodland and it is in close proximity to the town. It has made very good use of land which would have been difficult to use for anything else.

“All the animals have come from other zoos so they are relatively stable and used to captive conditions.”

The zoo covers 15 acres and at the height of the tourist season will employ around 20 people.

Among its attractions are big cats, crocodiles, piranhas, monkeys and parrots.

As well as offering tourists the chance to see rare species, the zoo takes a keen interest in animal conservation.

Zoo director Jim Irwin Davies said: “Man is guilty of messing up the environment and putting many of the species we have at Amazona Zoo under threat.

“We aim to contribute to stabilising the future of the species under our care, as well as offering general education on the wider aspects of animal welfare and environmental conservation.”

With the credit crunch starting to bite, and the value of the pound falling, many people are choosing not to holiday abroad.

Paul Dixon, from Norfolk Tourism, said the zoo could directly benefit from the changing holiday trend.

He added: “An attraction like this is incredibly well placed and from a Norfolk perspective it is great having a new attraction opening right at the start of the summer season. It should attract tourists, people visiting relatives and locals.”

The zoo is open daily until the end of October between 10am and 5pm. Admission is £8.50 for adults, £6.50 for children and £7.50 for senior citizens. For more information call 01263 510741.

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