In the beginning, much of John Jennison's collection was made up of both domestic and exotic birds. Some of the first buildings at Belle Vue were aviaries to house them. Before Jennison took over the site, it had been used for the extraction of lime, and there were a number of pits that he converted into ponds for aquatic birds. Shown left is the Sea Lion and Aquatic Bird House that was built in 1885. It contained a pool that was 64 feet long, 20 feet wide and 3 feet deep.
In the 1960s an enclosure for cranes was created which had a thatched shelter in the form of an African village house - a suitable backdrop for the African Crowned Cranes.
The pelicans at Belle Vue had a number of homes. Turn of the century images show them in the Paddock and in what was called the "Birds of Prey Terrace". This photograph taken in the 1940s shows them in their own out-door enclosure.
When the penguin collection left their indoor house, they were given an outdoor pool.
The penguins fell victim to a break-in at the zoo. Three teenagers, who entered the park at night, beat to death a group of penguins and a number of other birds.
Janice Watts, whose
grandfather was Syd Lane (Belle Vue's last scenic
artist), remembers a picture of the emperor penguins
in their family album, taken two weeks before the
attack. "After the incident", Janice tells me,
"Grandad asked our dad to design a security system for
the animal houses, which he did, it was installed by
one of the electricians to his (dad's) specifications.
In 1959 the Monkey Terrace, that ran along the side of the Elephant House, was demolished and replaced with a series of bird cages. The attraction was known as "Birdcage Walk" and it featured cages fronted with fine wire to keep the birds in but give the viewer a less obstructed view of them. The concrete cages had rear doors that led to heated in-door compartments for the birds. Shown below is a curious parrot using the wires as a perch.
The images below were generously donated by Tommy Kelly, son of Matt Kelly the Head Keeper
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