Fifty-year-old flamingos, the first penguins in a country house and a passion and commitment for wildlife and conservation, the Bird Garden at Harewood is an accredited zoo and first opened to the public in spring 1970, then hailed in the press as ‘one of England’s most comprehensive collections of rare and exotic birds from all parts of the world.’
When Harewood reopens on 21 March, following three months of winter closure, it will be to celebrate 50 years of the Bird Garden, with new launches and exhibitions to be revealed across the House, grounds and gardens.
We’re calling out to visitors and local people from around the 1970 opening to get in contact now and share their memories and stories of one of visitors’ most loved areas of Harewood to this day.
The Bird Garden was originally opened by the 7th Earl and the Countess of Harewood, to provide a new attraction for visitors and celebrate their passion for wildlife and the protection of endangered species. At the time they were advised by Sir Peter Scott, the conservationist, ornithologist and founder of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trusts and also by Len Hill, celebrated ornithologist and founder of Birdland Park and Gardens.
It once housed 500 birds from 140 different species, including native Australian birds from the Countess’ home country, in addition to significant collections of birds from the Himalayas and South America. Today, Harewood is an accredited zoo and a member of BIAZA, the professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in Britain and Ireland. It is home to approximately 300 birds from 56 different species, of which there are 17 managed international breeding and conservation programmes.
1970 was a significant year of flight – the year Concorde first flew supersonic; the first commercial passenger flight took place on a Jumbo Jet from New York to London and the Apollo 13 mission to the moon.
Jane Marriott, Director, Harewood House Trust, says “The Harewood Bird Garden is one of the best-loved parts of a visit to Harewood for many people, but what people may not know is that we are also an educational charity and the Bird Garden is an accredited zoo. At Harewood, we have a clear commitment to the care, conservation and biodiversity of many endangered bird species from around the world.
“In this 50th anniversary year, we would love to hear from anyone who might have visited in those early years, from when the Bird Garden opened in 1970. We’re sure there are many fascinating stories and memories, and hearing them will enable us to build the most complete picture of the impact of this part of Harewood’s past and its future and how zoos have developed from lovely displays of birds, into a very important place to care for our planet and wildlife.”
Harewood is asking people to send their stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find out more about the Bird Garden here