Paradise Wildlife Park & The Big Cat Sanctuary

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Paradise Wildlife Park & The Big Cat Sanctuary's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Paradise Wildlife Park & The Big Cat Sanctuary is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Managing Director Peter
Peter with daughter Lynn,
CEO, grandsons Aaron,
Tyler, Cameron and Scott
and Carly, PA
Peter Sampson purchased Broxbourne Zoo on April 1,
1984, which at the time was widely regarded as the worst
zoo in Britain. He has since transformed the site into
Paradise Wildlife Park – a modern, successful, conservation and
education-led zoo. The park became a full charity on January
1, 2017, and is now operated by the Zoological Society of
Hertfordshire. Peter tells
The Parliamentary Review
more about
his team’s focus on animal welfare and conservation.
In the past 35 years, our team have undertaken great strides to improve animal
welfare. We have established an enviable reputation for breeding endangered
species, have founded a number of interactive animal experiences and are the
only zoo in the UK that is home to all of the big five: tigers, lions, cheetahs, snow
leopards and jaguars.
We were the first zoo in the UK to have a fully independent green audit, have become
members of global trade associations and, probably most impressively, returned
lions to Africa. In 2000, we acquired The Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent, a private
sanctuary for the breeding and conservation of big cats. Abroad, our achievements
have included establishing several important conservation initiatives including
Project Life Lion in Africa and funding a school for forest guards’ children in India.
Staying ahead of the pack
We are surrounded by animal parks and leisure attractions in Europe, which has the
highest density of zoos anywhere in the world. We therefore need to be different in
order to compete and have developed several unique selling points. We are regarded
»Managing Director: Peter
»Founded in 1984 as
Broxbourne Zoo
»Based in Broxbourne,
Hertfordshire, and Smarden,
Ashford, Kent
»Services: Wildlife, leisure and
conservation park
»No. of employees: Over 250
»The only jaguar cub born
in the UK in 2017, as part
of the European Breeding
Programme, was born at
Paradise WIldlife Park in 2017
Paradise Wildlife Park &
The Big Cat Sanctuary
Highlighting best practice
as Europe’s leading zoo for exotic
animal experiences: where guests
form lifelong memories to take away
and share with friends, family and
colleagues, becoming more inspired
about conservation in the process.
We are not just a wildlife park – we
are a wildlife and leisure park. As such,
we have invested heavily in non-animal
activities and last year opened our
World of Dinosaurs exhibit – the UK’s
largest animatronic dinosaur attraction.
We host around 250,000 paid visitors
a year – and over 350,000 in total.
Furthermore, we are the largest
independent leisure employer in East
Hertfordshire, with a total team of
around 250.
Over the last five years, we have
undergone a rebranding, including the
development of a ten-year plan. This
has proved very successful in our visitor
figures, which are increasing year-on-
year at a greater rate than ever before.
A conservation-led wildlife
and leisure park
We participate annually in the
European Association of Zoos
and Aquaria’s Conservation and
Awareness Campaigns. We have
achieved excellent results to this end,
coming second in the UK and fourth
in Europe for funds raised for tiger
conservation, and second in the UK
and fifth in Europe for funds raised for
Over the past 30 years, we have
donated and generated well over
£5 million for various charities and
conservation initiatives. We are also
proud participants of the Hedgehog
Release Programme, whereby we use a
dedicated reserve to home and nurture
hedgehogs before they become ready
to return to live with local wildlife.
We are a proactive member of
various trade organisations including
the World Association of Zoos and
Aquariums, the European Association
of Zoos and Aquaria, the British
and Irish Association of Zoos and
Aquariums and the Association of
Leisure Parks, Piers and Attractions.
We are committed to conservation
both nationally and internationally;
our environmental management
system was included as part of the
best practice in zoos section of the Zoo
Licensing Act.
In recent times, as with many
businesses and households, we
have worked hard to reduce our use
of single-use plastics and increase
the recyclable materials we use on
site. To encourage the younger
Moto the African lion in
Pride Lands at Paradise
Wildlife Park
We have
established an
reputation for
generation to become more involved in
environmental issues, we have recently
launched our HEART Project – HEART
standing for Helping Endangered
Animals by Recycling Trash – whereby
local schools produce an endangered
animal model made entirely of recycled
materials. This will then culminate
in an art exhibition at the park, and
funds raised will be donated to our
main conservation project for the year,
Over recent years at Paradise, we have
been very proud to make valuable
contributions to the European
Endangered Species Programme by
breeding black lemurs, red-ruffed
lemurs, cotton-top tamarins and
red pandas. An achievement we are
very proud of is the birth of a female
jaguar cub, Keira, the only cub born in
the UK as part of the programme, in
2017. At present, we have breeding
recommendations for our red pandas
and our snow leopards and hope
to hear the patter of tiny paws in
Expanding with The Big Cat
We have had further success at The Big
Cat Sanctuary, which is managed by
the Wildlife Heritage Foundation. Our
success in breeding big cats, including
tigers, lions, snow leopards and Pallas’s
cats, has led to us becoming involved
with some of the world’s most
endangered big catspecies.
With insufficient land to expand to
this end in Broxbourne, we decided
to look for an alternative facility. With
our substantial network of contacts and
expertise in the breeding of big cats, we
built a tremendous network of support
for the sanctuary within the global zoo
community, conservation organisations
and breeding programmes. This helped
us to develop The Big Cat Sanctuary
and launch our pivotal “collection plan”
– as a result, we are now home to
Europe’s most important collection of
endangered felines.
Our breeding successes at the
sanctuary include Amur leopards,
Amur tigers and Sumatran tigers, and
we have been recognised by WAZA
for the branding and promotion
of the Amur Leopard Conservation
Programme. In recent years, we
have opened our hugely successful
overnight-stay lodges, which has
enabled the sanctuary to grow and
raised considerable funds.
The next steps
We are conscious of our responsibility
to the global community and will
continue to work abroad to this end. I
met representatives from the Uganda
Wildlife Conservation Education Centre
at an international zoo conference in
2007 and subsequently worked with
the Uganda Wildlife Authority to send
two female lions to Entebbe in 2009.
Both lionesses have since bred, and we
fund the upkeep and veterinary costs
for both of them.
I think there is no better summary
for our work – which I am immensely
proud of – than the compliment
we received from legendary zoo
veterinarian Peter Scott in 2012: “You
used to be regarded as the mavericks
– now you are seen as the pioneers of
the modern zoo.”
We have
committed to
nationally and
One of many
educational experiences,
feeding our red pandas

This article was sponsored by Paradise Wildlife Park & The Big Cat Sanctuary. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster