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The Zoo in the City Centre in 1960's

Just wondered if anyone remembers this? It wasn't called a Zoo then, but there were 'Zoo' animals housed there, I certainly remember monkeys. You paid to get in to see them

I used to come into the City Centre on Saturdays (no school) by train to Central Low Level to visit this place. I've almost lost all memory of it, certainly what it was called and the actual street it was on - that was one of the streets between Argyle Street and Clyde Street, looking west from the Umbrella, 2 or 3 street along on the left, and the entrance was on the left midway down that street towards the Clyde.

Many many years later a work colleague told me it was run by two brothers who had an interest in animals, their names I can't remember.
peter kemp

I remember it well. It was on the now vacant corner of Argyle st and Oswald St at the Heilan mans Umbrella.

photo from this link

Thanks, the name and address gives quite a few hits on the net. After a while I did forget what street it was in and never found it again. I remember asking a woman on Argyle Street if she knew where the Zoo near here was but the only one she knew of was at Calderpark.

Strangely enough the photo doesn't ring any bells - I thought it was much further along Argyle Street than Oswald Street and I seem to remember something above the front entrance carved in red sandstone. I thought I'd found the building during 2006 when I worked in one of the Scottish Executive's buildings along at Anderston; needless to say I've forgotten the street but I think it had an insignia above the entrance 'zoological something or other'.

I'm also completely lost on the supposed date of closure - 1956 - don't think so cos that puts me travelling alone at 7 years old: I thought it was early 60's.

Wilson Zoo it was.  The zoo also opened its doors at Craigend Castle in the now Mugdock Country Park.  Charlie the largest elephant in captivity could be seen with his keeper walking up the road from Milngavie to Mugdock

Craigend Zoo

"Craigend Zoo - Charlie the Elephant Craigend Estate was sold to Andrew Wilson and his zoologist son William in 1949. The family was already well-known as the proprietors of Wilson’s Zoo in Oswald Street, Glasgow. Between them they transformed Craigend into a zoological wonderland containing four thousand animals, reptiles and birds. most of which were kept in cages and dens located round the Gallow Hill (qv). A Noah’s Ark contained smaller birds and animals and was especially popular with children. Two of the Estate’s three lochs contained rowing and motor boats which could be hired for a modest sum. Three of the Castle’s public rooms became tearooms serving up to a thousand customers a day. Undoubtedly, the Zoo’s main attraction was Charlie the Elephant who resided in the stables block along with his keeper Singh Ibrahim. The pair were inseparable as the following story illustrates. Ibrahim one day decided to go for a drink in one of Milngavie’s public houses. As he walked down towards the village, he was unaware that Charlie was following at a discreet distance. The elephant’s presence was only confirmed when he tried to enter the public bar and got stuck fast in the doorway! It took the local fire brigade some considerable time to set him free. Sadly, Craigend Zoo was not a success. The local transport company withdrew the bus service from Milngavie to Craigend as it was operating at a loss. Visitor figures plummeted and the Zoo closed its doors for the last time in 1955."

source -

I don't remember much about the appearance of Wilson's Zoo, but I certainly remember what happened when I visited it as a wean, probably when I was a about 7 or so, 1955 or thereabouts.  I went with my Ma, and was OK until we got to the lion's cage - nae top on the cage!  Ah went intae hysterics and couldnae get oot quick enough.  I also remember a large, mastiff type dog that patrolled the floorspace, but I don't think it would've stood much chance against an athletic lion.
Struan Gardens

I remember visiting this zoo several times with my father during the 1950s. My recollections are a bit vague, but I recall the animal that was kept in a cage close to the entrance. The exhibit label referred to it as a laughing hyena, although it didn't look too happy. I thought it was a very depressing place, with poor lighting and a generally run-down feel about it.

zoo in oswald st

Im so happy to find out at 63 yrs old that I wasnt dreaming after all that my parents took me to azoo up a close! Iremember a cash kiosk with lady behind that you paid and then the zookeeper in uniform taking you upstairs to the lion in its cage. I remembered crying when it let out  
a roar and the zookeeper  saying not to cry that the lion was just yawning!

More memories, and a photo, here -

A zoo up a close, you couldn't make it up. Forum Index -> Glasgow From The Past
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