Undiscovered Coventry – The Zoo?

So, Dan, Sara and Myself have chosen to base our radio show on the fact that Coventry used to have a zoo. Until recently, I knew nothing of the city having a Zoo in the past, and I’ve lived here for 22 years!

So to begin, we have written a preliminary script, organised the show layout and came up with a concept for our show.



Welcome back! It’s now time for that part of the show where we look at bringing a little piece of heritage back to your local area. Take a listen to this – what do you think it is?

*Gym sounds*

Well rewind 40 years or so, and you’d hear this…

*Animal/zoo sounds*

Yes, today we’re talking about Coventry Zoo, locally known as the Whitley Zoo. If like me you didn’t know about it, don’t feel along. We took to the streets to find out more.

*Vox pop – Did you know Coventry had a zoo? Yes – any stories?*

Well, in 1966 Whitley Zoo opened to a fanfare, located at Whitley Common. Set up and opened by brothers Dick and John Chipperfield, relatives of the circus family, the entrance was occupied by a towering Zulu warrior head.

Making your way through the zoo, you’d pass domestic animals like rabbits and mice, before getting to more exotic animals like chimps, tigers, leopards and lions.

Next stop: the giraffe, camel and elephant house. One of the zoo’s first elephants was Sukie, an elderly elephant who hauled timber in the forests of India before being bought by the Chipperfield who turned her into a circus star.

During it’s first week open to the public, 8000 people descended on the zoo to see monkeys playing, Canadian brown and Russian black bears living together, Harry the hippo, kangaroos and bad tempered porcupines.

However, unfortunately due to a run in of problems, such as AWOL animals and financial struggles, the zoo eventually shut in 1980. And someone who oversaw all this was head keeper John Voce, and today we’re lucky enough to have him in the studio…

*Interview – what was it like working there? What can you remember? Feelings on it being shut down. What did you do after? How would you feel if it came back and what would you do differently? If we campaigned to bring it back, would you support it?

(If yes…) We also found out if members of the public would support it.

*Vox pops – Would you want one/bring it back? How would they react to one now*


So, if after this you feel inspired or want to join in with our campaign, visit us on our Facebook page… or Tweet us using the hashtag #returnofthezoo. We want to hear your opinions and feedback on anything we’ve said today on this topic.

But right now we’re going to play a song and join us after where we’ll be recapping on last months campaign to bring back…


So our concept of the show is to ultimately try and bring the zoo back to Coventry. The guest we have in the script is the head zookeeper. Obviously, it will be very hard to find this guy, but we are trying to get some more information from the Coventry Telegraph who ran a story on the zoo a few weeks ago.

For our sound we had originally planed to go to Twycross zoo to record atmospheric and animal sounds, however, due to scheduling problems, and not being able to used recording equipment in the zoo we are going to record some outdoor sounds and then layer them with animal sounds.

We have ran through our programme twice now in some practice sessions and both have been very encouraging. We are working well as a team, our concept seems well throught out and works in the radio environment and I am relishing the opportunity to work in a live studio enviroment.


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