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A look-back at famous Welsh zoo Penscynor Wildlife Park

Credit: ITV Archive National Library of Wales

If you were a child in the 1970s and 80s in Wales, chances are you made a trip to Penscynor Wildlife Park.

The 11-acre site became home to a number of exotic animals and it opened to the public due to popular demand in 1971.

After being purchased by local builder Idris Hale who had a passion for animals, it attracted more than 200,000 visitors each year.

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The site housed a monkey island, penguin pool and chimpanzee house.

"It's not like other zoos where its all concrete. It's in a natural environment so in my opinion with running water and a natural environment, it is a natural place to have a zoo", owner Idris Hale said in 1985.

"I was born within half a mile of the park - I stole apples from here as a child and never dreamed I would own this. I went to Miami and I saw Parrot Jungle and I thought, 'I wonder if I could open a place like that in Wales?'

The site was home to more than 170 animals

It continued to expand with a toboggan slide and cable car.

"I would say we were one of the zoos that are making money, because they have not done this sort of thing - try to attract people other than animal and bird lovers."

Idris started it as a hobby but a chance remark changed his mind.

"Well I always remember the day when we opened it to charity and two elderly ladies said 'why should one man possess all this'? And that stuck in my mind so we opened it to the public and ever since then it's been a great success"

The park closed in 1998 and more than 170 animals had to be rehomed and lay derelict for a number of years.