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1944

Large polar bear enclosure is built

By Chester Zoo

The zoo began building two new enclosures for bears in 1944 which were constructed from local, inexpensive materials. Building materials remained in extremely short supply following the war, however after the war George Mottershead had the idea that if he could acquire some of the now obsolete anti-tank roadblocks which covered the surrounding areas, they could be put into good use at the zoo.

After a few enquiries George was told that he could have the materials if he could arrange for them to be moved. So he organised for a local contractor to collect as many as he could within a 10 mile radius and within a very short space of time there were over 2000 road blocks, as well as materials from pill boxes stacked up in the zoo! The zoo used the antitank road blocks to create the polar bear enclosure - of which some of its structure is still visible in the zoo today.

Catherine Jane Tomkyns-Grafton, who had originally adopted Chester's first polar bear, Punch who arrived at the zoo in 1934, provided funding for their new enclosure and left the zoo £18,000—a very generous sum for that time.

See more: Special Zoo Moments, Mammals