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Amusing London Zoo trip in the early 1960s

This short, 8mm vintage home movie was taken in the early 1960s at London Zoo and shows some of the animals including an amusing sequence of an elephant being ridden by a zoo keeper.

This film is about half the length of a normal 50ft reel and just over 1 1/2 minutes, and that is probably because it has been edited down to just the second half. Written on the box is a note which says, ‘1st half blank, 2nd half good, Shot at Zoo’.

Although the notation on the film doesn’t mention the actual zoo, I identified it as London Zoo because by chance I happened to have taken some still colour slides there myself in the early 1980s and recognised the location the Bears are in.

The date the film was shot however is actually a guess on my part. The section of the box which has the ‘develop before’ note on has been inked over, but I’m pretty sure this is late 1950s or early 1960s from the design of the marconi television van shown at the start of the film.

The film itself is in pretty good condition with good colour rendition and definition which is probably to be expected for the Kodachrome film stock it was shot on.

This is the second film on Vintage Home Movies which was shot at a Zoo; I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise since zoos are popular attractions and people would normally make family home movies of interesting places they visited to relive the memories at a later date.

I suppose the most interesting section for me was at the very start when the elephant keeper is seen riding the elephant in an open area near the zoo entrance; I don’t know if that would still happen or not but it must have been a real thrill for the school children who can be seen gathered round the elephant. I remember paying a school visit to London Zoo at about the same time this film was taken and I don’t remember that happening – I’m sure I would remember if it had.

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If you see anything in the film which you recognise, or you think gives clues to the location or date, please let me know in the comments below. Also, please share this post with your friends if you think they may be able to help locate a scene in this film.

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A software developer by profession and an amateur photographer by hobby I've been interested in all things photographic since I was a teenager some 40 years ago. Many of my interests centre around vintage film photography and cinematography.

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