CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Life in Paradise – a Q&A with zoo founder Peter Sampson

PUBLISHED: 10:48 18 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:06 18 July 2013

Peter Sampson with a snow leopard cub born at the zoo

Peter Sampson with a snow leopard cub born at the zoo

Archant

Broxbourne’s Paradise Wildlife Park founder Peter Sampson on taking on a zoo with no wild animal knowledge and turning it into one of the most important rare animal centres in Europe

What was your journey to Paradise Wildlife Park? I have lived and worked in Hertfordshire all my life. I started my business 50 years ago and have owned many different businesses over the years, all of which have been based in Hertfordshire. These included Sampson Coaches, Sampson Travel, Fleetville MOT testing station, Shades coach conversion and of course Paradise Wildlife Park. I started life as a speedway rider and rode for several years for various teams across the UK, including Rye House. I still maintain my interest in speedway as Paradise is home to the National Speedway Museum and the World Speedway Riders Association.

What did you want to achieve with Paradise when you opened in the 1980s? We bought Broxbourne Zoo on April 1 1984 and everyone thought we were fools! We were the original ‘We Bought a Zoo’ family as we had no knowledge of wild animals. We did however have good business acumen and through very hard work, patience, belief and passion, we have developed Paradise Wildlife Park into one of the UK’s leading privately- owned zoos.

.

How have things evolved since then? The park is home to more than 400 animals and we have many that are part of European endangered species breeding programmes. We are proud to welcome well over 300,000 guests each year for days out, weddings, corporate events and charity functions and for our amazing selection of hands-on exotic animal experiences.

.

What have been the highlights? Our passion for big cats has grown extensively over the years. Thirteen years ago we purchased the Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent. Across the two sites we have one of the most important collections of big cats with some of the world’s most endangered cats, which we have bred successfully. We are very proud of achievements in conservation and education. We have won numerous awards and recognition from our peers for our work to establish or support conservation projects in all corners of the globe. A highlight was sending two lions back to Africa in 2009.

My other highlight is being able to work with my children and, now, grandchildren. How many people are lucky enough to see their family every day and help support them develop their own careers and business ideas?

.

And the challenges? There are over 20 zoos and animal attractions within an hour of Paradise, including London, Whipsnade, Woburn and Colchester, which makes it the most competitive region in Europe, if not the world. We therefore have to be on our game!

What does the future hold for Paradise? The future is uncertain. There is increased competition from other leisure outlets, more government red-tape and regulations, plus our operation costs and the amount we pay in taxes are all increasing dramatically. But the most important part is my family and their health.

0 comments

More from People

Friday, December 7, 2018

Devon Life received this heartfelt letter from Mr Michael Thompson, of Torbay, which is felt particularly poignant to share with our website audience at this time of year

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

The actor Anthony Head talks to Bernard Bale about his love of animals and wildlife, and the countryside around his Somerset home

Read more
Friday, December 7, 2018

Talented singer brings home prestigious title after top performance

Read more
Thursday, December 6, 2018

Hanna Miraftab, newest star of hit TV series The Real Housewives of Cheshire, shares some insight into her life

Read more
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bursting with festive inspiration, KATE WILLIAMS seeks out the best presents for a perfect Devon Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Ballroom star and world class judge Gary Edwards has enjoyed an incredible career in dance, claiming 30 dance titles across the globe, followed by a stint as advisor to the Royal family of Brunei. Now a presenter on hit American show Dancing with the Stars, Denise Marshall caught up with the Romford-born star for the inside word on Strictly 2018!

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

As we mark the centenary of the end of world War I, Hannah Salisbury from the Essex Record Office reveals a unique insight into life at war during this bleak time | Words: Hannah Salisbury

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We asked our very own Snowman to reveal his top cultural picks

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

We peek inside wildlife painter Catherine Ingleby’s Shurlock Row home, which she has transformed from a dated 70s relic into a colourful hive of creativity

Read more

Celebrating the centenary of women being allowed to vote in a UK General Election, we look at leading Kent ladies, then and now

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search