There was a time, years ago, when I was not in favour of the idea of zoos. Keeping wild animals caged for the amusement of humans didn't seem right somehow. However, as perceptions of the importance of the conservation of endangered species have changed over the last few years, most zoos have changed beyond recognition. Gone, for the most part, are the confined and cramped caged conditions, now there are wide open enclosures where the animals can live in more natural environments. Many zoos now are part of world-wide conservation programmes in conjunction with organisations such as the WWF (World Wildlife Fund).
Folly Zoo, or to give it it's proper name Folly Farm & Zoo is one of two such places here in the western part of Wales. Folly Farm had very humble beginnings as a simple working dairy farm. The owners noticed how often people stopped at the roadside to watch the cattle and other farm animals, had an idea to open the farm to the public to watch dairy cattle being milked and a 'petting farm' for the children. This opened in 1988.
Folly Farm continued to expand over the next few years, adding such things as 'adventure playgrounds', a vintage funfair and nature trails, becoming one of the most popular attractions in Wales. Then, in 2000, the decision was made to add a zoo.
The decision would involve becoming part of several important conservation projects, and the first animals started arriving in 2002, with a slowly evolving expansion programme in place. 2009 saw the arrival of the first giraffes in Wales.
There are several breeding programmes currently taking places at Folly Zoo to try to increase the numbers of several endangered species, including the Madagascan Fossa, the Bongo Antelope and the Barbary Macaque (photo below).
2013 has seen the opening of Wales' first saltwater penguin enclosure, home for 24 endangered Humboldt Penguins.
The full set of photos I took at Folly Zoo can be seen in this Flickr slideshow: