Friday, 11 March 2011
black & white photos
Polar bears at St Louis zoo
A polar bear emerges from its crate at Dudley Zoo in Worcestershire, and inspects its new environment, 28th April 1937. The zoo, which is due to open to the public on May 6th, was formerly the private collection of the Earl of Dudley. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Dudley Zoo opened to the public in May 1937, constructed over 40 acres within a 200-acre densely-wooded site which includes an 11th century castle.
The idea to convert Dudley Castle¹s grounds into zoological gardens came from its then owner, the third Earl of Dudley, who chose a team of Modernist architects called The Tecton Group to design the zoo.
Using reinforced concrete the team created a revolutionary new design of building: Tectons.
The structures have stood the test of time and seven decades on Dudley Zoo has the world's largest single collection of Tectons, which in 2009 received World Monument Status.
Today the Tecton buildings are boosted by a variety of animal housing, paddocks and enclosures which are home to 170 species and more than 1300 creatures.
Polar bear complex
An existing ravine was adapted to provide a trio of enclosures for polar bears, tigers and lions. One of the most exciting uses of the Tecton technique, it was built into an old quarried area on the southern side of the hill.
A major structure, it was intended for polar bears at the centre and big cats to either side. The circular polar bear pit was placed in the centre with an elevated terrace around it which bridges the ravine and affords excellent views into the three enclosures.
The polar bear pit at Dudley Zoo is pictured in 1951.