Plymouth 'big cat' expert buys zoo|shearluck||09/11/07 at 15:53:54|shearluck|xx|0||[quote]A Plymouth 'big cat' expert has bought a West Country zoo for more
than £400,000.

Chris Moiser, a former biology lecturer at Plymouth College of Further
Education (now called City College), took over the 5.5-acre
Tropiquaria in Watchet, Somerset, two weeks ago.

He purchased the zoo with his business partner, former Derriford
Hospital nurse Jane Bassett, and another investor.

The pair are now living in the zoo, an art deco former BBC radio station.

Mr Moiser is famous for tracking the sightings of mystery big cats in
the South West.

He has written five books, four of which, including a novel, are about
the so-called Beast of Bodmin Moor and other mysterious cats.

He is planning to increase visitor numbers at Tropiquaria from about
60,000 to 100,000 a year.

The zoo, which opened in 1988, was built in the 1930s as a BBC radio

It is still used to transmit BBC Wales, and hot air from the
transmitters is used to warm the zoo's reptile house.

Tropiquaria was opened in 1988 by Stephen Smith and Sarah Griffiths.
It contains a variety of animals including small crocodiles, iguanas,
tropical fish, snakes, monkeys, lemurs, meerkats, parrots and other birds.

It is part of a breeding programme for rare Madagascan tree boas and
other snakes and the Northern Helmeted Curassow bird.

In addition to its 'indoor jungle' and waterfall, the site also
contains a radio museum, puppet theatre, play castle and two
full-size, replica, pirate ships, where a pop video was recently filmed.

Mr Moiser has plans for the zoo, including hosting next year's Big
Cats in Britain conference, a winter programme of speakers and other
educational events, and redeveloping an enclosure so he can exhibit
some small species of exotic cats.

He is also now probing big cat sightings in Somerset and Exmoor.

He described the area as "an amazing place, very different from Plymouth".

Mr Moiser and Ms Bassett have travelled extensively in Africa.

She said: "When I first told my hospital colleagues and friends that
we were buying a zoo I don't think that they believed me. Now they are
telephoning to ask admission prices."

For details of Tropiquaria's opening times and prices visit:

Plymouth Herald 7/9/07