• Belfast Between The Wars

BELFAST ZOO “BABIES”: ENTERTAINED TO TEA AT HAZELWOOD CAFE

Belfast News-Letter, Tuesday 11th August 1936


Seldom has the Belfast Zoo presented such a scene of animation as that witnessed, in glorious weather, yesterday afternoon, the special occasion being the entertainment to tea of the Zoo “babies” at the Hazelwood Café.


Vast crowds, which included many visitors from across the Channel and elsewhere, began to flock to Bellevue and Hazelwood immediately after lunch, and so great was the rush from the centre of the city that by 2.30pm the tramway management was taxed to its maximum to handle the traffic. At Castle Junction, tramcars were packed on leaving, and many people along the line of route were forced to go to the Junction to get a car or omnibus. It was not until nearly four o’clock that the rush eased off.


Among the thousands of children who went to the Zoo it was evident there were none who did not enjoy the outing, and among the grown-ups the happiest was the genial curator, Dr. Richard H. Hunter, F.Z.S., &C. It was a great afternoon for the doctor, and he told the representative of the “News-Letter” that he was delighted beyond bounds with the wonderful crowds and the happy time the children were enjoying.


THE TEA PARTY


Dr. Hunter described his entertainment as “the most original tea-party ever held in Belfast.” Little Gordon McNutt, aged five years, invited all the baby animals in Belfast Zoo to Hazelwood Café for tea, and half the children in Belfast seemed to have gone along to see the fun. Gordon received his baby animal guests in a most important manner, and introduced them to his girl friend, little Sheila Morrison, daughter of Mr. Morrison, manager of the Empire Theatre. They were Aunt Phoebe, the baby llama; Joe, the baby monkey; Richard, Elma and Early Bird, the baby lions, and the three unnamed baby wolves.


“Tea” was served from silver salvers by a bevy of charming waitresses. Finely minced raw beef for the baby lions, not-so-finely-minced raw beef for the baby wolves; bread and butter for the baby llama, with a dish of fruit for Joe the monkey. The best of animal behaviour was observed by all the guests except Joe, who disgraced himself by seizing a banana in each of his little hands and then helping himself to an apple by his right foot and an orange by his left. Joe’s naughtiness merely added to the fun of the party.


The babies were then taken back to the zoo, where Sheila performed the ceremony of naming the baby wolves: Jerry, Gordon, and Sheila. Every child in the vicinity was then presented with a free bottle of lemonade to drink the health of the babies. The toast was drunk with enthusiasm, and thus ended one of the jolliest and most unusual tea parties ever held at Bellevue.


The baby animals were under the personal charge of Mr. Dick Foster, head keeper of the zoo, and a capable staff of assistants.


Find out more about the history of Belfast Zoo here.