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Home Tourist Attraction The rise and fall of UK’s wildest £250,000 tourist attraction home of exotic birds and rides – before being left to rot

The rise and fall of UK’s wildest £250,000 tourist attraction home of exotic birds and rides – before being left to rot

by Staff

UK’s wildest £250,000 tourist attraction home of exotic birds and rides has now been left to rot.

The iconic Welsh site popular among families for its penguins, snakes and lions is now a shell of its glorious self.

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The chimpanzee house at the former Penscynor Wildlife Park is now a rotting siteCredit: Media Wales
The old alpine slide viewing bridge

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The old alpine slide viewing bridgeCredit: Media Wales
Empty cages are filled with overgrown grass and mould

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Empty cages are filled with overgrown grass and mouldCredit: Media Wales

Thousands of Brits flocked every year to Penscynor Wildlife Park, one of the biggest tourist attractions in Cilfrew, Wales.

The exotic zoo was once home to dozens of birds and animals living in the hillsides in the Neath Valley.

Lions, penguins, polecats and rare birds created an immersive experience that transported visitors into the heart of the animal kingdom.

The park was also famous for notorious animal escapes that left zoo visitors in shock.

Armed police were once brought in after a monkey escaped and then chased mechanics in a garage around a car.

In another occasion, a monkey once pulled off a duck’s head in front of horrified schoolchildren.

Founded by visionary Idris Hale in 1971, Penscynor quickly blossomed into a haven for over 300 species from around the globe.

The Park’s education officer Howie Watkins said in the early 1990s: “There was a real commitment to trying to be the very best we could be.

“For a small zoo we really punched above our weight, doing far more than zoos of a similar size.

“We played an active part in global breeding programmes. We ran the UK breeding records for the Humboldt penguin and the European and African breeding records for a number of other endangered species.

“I was really proud to be a part of that.”

However, the dream came to halt when in the late nineties it was forced to shut down.

Financial constraints and a change in regulations hit the park hard.

As maintenance costs skyrocketed. the park struggled to stay afloat and keep up with modern standards in animal welfare.

In 1998, Penscynor closed its doors forever and hundreds of animals were rehoused to other zoos across the nation.

The once-majestic animal sanctuary is now a derelict site with overgrown grass and moulding walls.

Haunting pictures show an eerie damp with broken trails and abandoned animal cages.

Remains include chimpanzee house, a former alpine slide viewing bridge and an old pool.

Idris Hale’s grandson Jonathan Hale-Quant recently opened up about the park’s legacy.

He told ITV: “It was a remarkable thing that he built. To create Penscynor Wildlife Park and to give so many people so much happiness is incredible.

“I have a head full of memories and a heart filled with joy.”

The park has been abandoned since it closed in 1998

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The park has been abandoned since it closed in 1998Credit: Media Wales
Thousands of brits visited the zoo every year

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Thousands of brits visited the zoo every yearCredit: Media Wales
Lions, penguins and snakes once roamed wild in the park

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Lions, penguins and snakes once roamed wild in the parkCredit: Media Wales

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