Birdland will not become a "theme park" say bosses
BOSSES behind a former family-owned tourist attraction have vowed not to turn it into a "theme park".
And the new owners of Birdland Park and Gardens in Bourton-on-the-Water have pledged the spot will be as much for residents as it is to visitors from further afield.
The iconic 14-acre park has been bought by industry professional Ian Cunningham, principal of Livingstone Leisure Ltd, which he runs with business partner Michael Enright.
It is the first acquisition of the new company, which describes its mission as to 'identify and purchase under-performing attractions and investigate new build opportunities'.
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But although Mr Cunningham insisted he wanted to build up the current 40,000 annual visitors, he also said that he wanted people living close by to feel Birdland was their attraction too.
The park, which now features the UK's only colony of King Penguins, had been run by the Trigg family for many years before being sold earlier this year.
Mr Cunningham said: "We're not theme park people.
"It doesn't need transforming as it's such a beautiful attraction already and that's why we bought it.
"Over the last three or four years, they've spent a lot of time getting the infrastructure right and we want to build on that good work. We would like to enlarge some of the aviaries to produce more free-flying displays, and develop the breeding.
"There are a couple of species of birds that are fairly iconic that should be in the collection.
"We will also improve catering."
The new boss said developing membership was also a key issue which was being looked into.
He added: "There's a season ticket at the moment but I feel we can provide more value for local people.
"The whole point is they're the product's ambassadors and their support is important to us.
"We'd like a more competitive scheme to provide things such as members' days, where people get involved with feeding or looking after the animals.
"We want people to feel more privileged and feel it's their attraction."
Mr Cunningham said he had a thorough grounding in wildlife attractions.
Previously the UK managing director of Spanish-based Aspro Ocio, he co-founded Blue Reef Leisure Ltd which owned and operated four aquariums in the UK.
He was also operations director at Cornwall's Eden Project.
Current Birdland manager Simon Blackwell will continue in his role and become more involved in the breeding programme.
The park, by the River Windrush, has 500 birds, from parrots to cassowaries and cranes, and was started by Len Hill in 1957.
Eddie and Val Trigg bought it in 1993, passing it on to their seven children when they died.