LAST week, we looked at the changing face of Knaresborough down the years, courtesy of a great new book Knaresborough Through Time.

This week, we look at a particular and still, by some, fondly remembered episode in the town’s history. Knaresborough Zoo was started in 1965 by Eddy Milborrow, a former circus ringmaster and pet shop owner.

Mr Milborrow left within a few years to become a taxidermist, according to Zoo History UK, and the zoo, in Conyham Park near to the river Nidd, was soon taken over by the Nyoka family. It closed in the mid-1980s, partly because of debts, and partly because the local council would not renew the zoo’s licence.

Towards the end, the zoo ran into a few problems. In 1983, three pythons worth an estimated £950 were stolen, sparking fears for public safety. “The snakes are bad-tempered and will bite anything that moves,” warned Barbara Nyoka, wife of zoo owner Nick Nyoka. A couple of years later, shortly before it closed, the zoo was slammed in an inspectors’ report as “totally inadequate”, with hygiene and the standard of the animal closure both criticised.

Nevertheless, the zoo was popular with many while it remained open there is still a “We Miss Knaresborough Zoo” site on Facebook today. Two of the zoo animals Simba the lion and Cassius, a female reticulated python more than 27 feet long, made it into the Guinness Book of Records.

Our photographs today offer just a glimpse of zoo life. They include:

• Enoch the chimpanzee, shortly after he completed a starring role in the BBC film The Silver Sword in 1970.

• Whiskers the otter perching on the head of zoo boss Eddy Milborrow, 1969.

• Irma the elephant pulls an abandoned motorbike from the River Nidd, 1967.

• Ella and Jane Milborrow, daughters of zoo boss Eddy, get a “ringside” seat for a parade of penguins, in 1966.