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Zoos get into gear for Darwin bicentenary

Zoos and aquariums across the UK are starting to plan events to celebrate Darwin’s bicentenary.

Bring your beard

Recreating (in miniature) Darwin’s arrival at Falmouth harbour in 1836 in preparation for a display at Newquay Zoo in 2009.

Recreating, in miniature, Darwin’s arrival at Falmouth harbour in 1836 in preparation for a display at Newquay Zoo in 2009.

Newquay Zoo has already trailed events they are planning for 2009. These include the Big Beard Birthday Bash weekend (14 -15 February), which will take place around Darwin’s 200th birthday in 2009. All visitors turning up wearing a beard (real or false) will gain discounted entry to the zoo and share the Victoria sponge birthday cake that will be made from an authentic Mrs Beeton recipe. A schools and visitor trail will also be developed and an exhibition about the changing nature of zoos since Victorian times.

Darwin, on his voyage of the Beagle, would have encountered many of the animals and habitats that zoos now work to conserve. He visited London Zoo frequently to observe and research the animals there, even conducting rudimentary experiments with music. He also had a passionate interest in marine biology at a time when aquariums were being developed both in zoos and in the home.

Unnatural selection

Zoos and aquariums now focus much more on conservation and scientific research so it is natural for them to join in the celebration of a man who changed our view of our place in the animal world. Darwin’s thoughts on extinction and evolution by natural selection are set against the current 'unnatural selection' of animals endangered through habitat loss, hunting and human pressures.

BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria) is a conservation, education and scientific wildlife charity representing the zoo and aquarium community. Zoos and aquariums across the UK hope to celebrate Darwin's bicentenary in a range of innovative ways. This might involve a trail, talk, event or exhibition to connect the zoo or aquarium visitor of today with Charles Darwin's life, his achievements and his legacy for the future.

For more information about these events please contact BIAZA or Newquay Zoo.


‘There is grandeur in this view of life... from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.’ Charles Darwin