One Zoo Three
4th July 2023
Interview: Amy Bell
Meet the 3 brothers; Cam, Tyler and Aaron. Their grandparents founded Paradise Wildlife Park is a family-run wildlife park and charity located in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, England. Previously known as Broxbourne Zoo, it was renamed Paradise Wildlife Park after it came under the management of Peter & Grace Sampson family in 1984.
They allowed cameras to follow them on their day to day life of running a zoo. Paradise Wildlife Park is a family run zoo with three brothers: Aaron, Tyler and Cam all growing up and living on site. The TV show will be following the daily tasks these zoo brothers take on, from playing with bacon bubbles to cleaning out the tapir toilet – poo-wee!
As well as the daily fun that comes with living on a zoo, you will be able to meet the fabulously furry faces of our 800 plus animal residents. Full of character and quirks, ‘One Zoo Three’ will be the perfect after-school, before school or weekend viewing.
Thank you so much for speaking to ReVamp, so tell me, what is the history with PWP? It was founded by your grandparents and now directed by your parents, how does that feel?
Cam: Paradise Wildlife Park, located in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, has a fascinating history.
My grandparents owned at bus and coach company in the early 1980’s and needed a plot of land somewhere to park them. That’s where the stumbled across what was Broxbourne Zoo back then, the worst zoo in the UK. After seeing the conditions of the animals, they decided it was time for a change and decided to purchase the zoo in 1984 and embarked on a mission to transform it into a wildlife park. Under their ownership, the park saw numerous improvements, including the introduction of new animal exhibits and conservation initiatives. The first was building a new home for Bobby the lion who lived in a square metal scaffold cage. Bobby had never felt grass before so they built him a brand new enclosure where he could run on grass for the first time in his life. After that, it became known as Paradise Wildlife Park, reflecting its evolving focus on wildlife preservation and education.
Paradise Wildlife Park is renowned for its commitment to animal welfare and conservation efforts. It participates in various breeding programs, helping to protect endangered species and promote biodiversity. The park also collaborates with global conservation organidations to support conservation projects worldwide. Today, Paradise Wildlife Park continues to thrive, striving to offer an enjoyable and educational experience while raising awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.
Your childhood must be pretty wild, living in a zoo, what were your memories growing up at the zoo?
Cam: I have so many memories of growing up at Paradise as a kid, from helping on the zoo every school break as a kid to helping to hand rear a lion cub called Zara who now lives at our conservation partner in Uganda, we had a very surreal upbringing.
Tyler: We are very lucky to have grown up at the zoo, surrounded by some amazing wildlife. When we were younger it was great to be able to walk around after hours and have the whole site to ourselves, we would hang out with the animals but also play games like hide and seek around the zoo.
During the lockdown, you got a lot of support from your local community. Did you think the zoo brought everyone closer together, during that period?
Cam: Absolutely, it was an incredibly difficult period for everyone, but the way people came together to support the zoo and animals was simply incredible. We received a great amount of money donations and even ended up having to turn food donations away as our fridges were completely full! So again, thank you to everyone for your support and kindness.
Let’s talk about the popular CBBC show you did ‘One Zoo Three’, how did that all come about, and why did you decide to do the show?
Cam: My brothers Ty, Aaron and another member of our team Redmond (Who is also a life long friend) started a conservation project called Drive4Widllife, where we ventured to East Africa to donate and raise awareness to our conservation partners we have supported over the years. We filmed the whole adventure and 4-5 production companies showed interest. By chance through a friend, we were able to have a meeting with Wendy Darke, Founder and CEO of TrueToNature in Bristol. A year later, Wendy called us and said CBBC wanted to produce a pilot series with us, 5 x 15 minute episodes, and we jumped at the opportunity. That’s how One Zoo Three was born.
It is very popular amongst a lot of people, would you say, the feedback has helped with the attraction of paradise wildlife park and how many people have you got coming there now?
Cam: The show has been amazing, not only from the stand point that were able to show a large audience the work our teams and conservation partners around the world do but also how we care for our animals, and the work that good zoos do. We’ve had people come from all over the UK, Scotland to Wales, Cornwall to Manchester. It’s been simply incredible.
What was it like filming for ‘One Zoo Three’, and will it be commissioned for a further series do you know of as yet?
Cam: It's great fun filming One Zoo Three and really rewarding. We’re 3 seasons into One Zoo Three and 1 season into OZT Goes Wild in Britain (Spin-Off Series) and we’re currently filming Season 4 and Season 5.
Tyler: Lots of fun and banter taking place throughout the filming with my two brothers, the family, the keeping teams and the film crew. Its amazing to be working so closely with everyone and educating so many families about the incredible animals and what we need to do to protect them.
Aaron, Cam and Tyler, you did a few meet and greets, when the show was coming out, which i thought was really lovely, what were people’s reactions when meeting you and the feedback for people who had never visited the zoo before?
Cam: We couldn’t believe the support we received at our meet and greets. We had people queuing an hour and a half to meet us which was wild! It was a really positive experience and we look forward to doing more!
You also work with Zoological conservation, why do you think it is so important to also do this and why do you think that partnership is so important?
Cam: Conservation should be at the heart and forefront of any good zoo in today’s world. We engage in conservation, research, endangered species breeding programmes and education, all of which play a key role in conserving threatened species.
Can you talk about your day to day life when working and what does it look like, as i assume it looks different every day?
Cam: Every day is very different, I always get asked this question and honestly never know how to answer it in truth! It’s just filled with lots of animals, adventures, and also football!
Tyler: Completely agree with Cam, there's always something happening at Paradise Wildlife Park, The Big Cat Sanctuary and with our conservation partners.
You go on a lot of trips around the world, raising awareness, what has been your favourite trip and why?
Cam: A very difficult question to answer, I wouldn’t say I have a particularly favourite trip as they’ve all had their individual moments that I’ll never forget. From giving Chhouk, an Asian elephant a prosthetic foot that we fund in Cambodia to radio collaring an African elephant in Uganda, they’ve all been memorable.
Tyler: We have had so many incredible adventures, meeting some unbelievable people and witnessing some amazing animal species. My favourite trip/ project was Drive4Wildilfe as we travelled over 5000km, through 4 countries in 3 weeks. Highlighting incredible conservation efforts and making new friends throughout East Africa. It was the trip of a lifetime, so much went into that project but what was delivered was something very special. The first animal ambulance and rescue vehicle in Uganda, which since its arrival in 2020, has helped rescue and rehabilitate over 350 animals.
Out of all of the new habitats that you have built, what are your favourites?
Cam: My favourite habitat is definitely our newest one, Sun Bear Heights. Welcoming bears is a first for the zoo, and the habitat we’ve built for them is really special. It’s a state of the art mixed species habitat where sun bears, binturong and asian short clawed otters can co-exist together. Not only that but the awareness we can raise for sun bears is so key in conserving this species, because so little is known about them.
Tyler: Land of the tigers is pretty special to us all, as it is a first of its kind in the UK with underwater viewing of the tigers in the water but also the first mixed species habitat for tigers, koi carp and grass carp. But the new Sun Bear & Jaguar projects we are also very proud of and cannot wait for everyone to see what we have lined up for the future at both charities.
You are in the process of changing your name to ‘Hertfordshire Zoo’, on the 1st April 2024, why the change and what can people look forward to for future projects? Anything planned?
All three of us: As a family, we are from Hertfordshire and as a zoo we are proud to be within the county and being a zoo remains at the forefront of all our decisions. Thus, becoming Hertfordshire Zoo allows us to show everyone our continuous, unwavering dedication for the welfare of the animals in our care and in conservation of their wild counterparts.
It is our responsibility to highlight the great work that good, accredited zoos do globally. We work with a number of the leading zoos around the world to ensure top animal habitat design, animal welfare standards, healthy international breeding programmes and conservation efforts for all wildlife.