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27.04.2015
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The Channel 4 documentary series set behind the scenes at Chester Zoo has already brought us a touching story of best friend penguins Rud and Spike, and the arrival of an adorable baby elephant.
Now in Episode 3 there’s another new arrival as giraffe Orla gives birth to her three week-overdue calf. It’s not about the long-limbed favourites though – elsewhere there are the adorably smiley, if scarily huge, mountain chicken frogs, which make up part of Chester’s conservation efforts as a species close to extinction. Finally, we also meet a trio of mischievous aardvarks to see what they get up to when no-one’s looking. Following animals in captivity might not be the usual angle for a wildlife documentary, but this warm, funny, and caring series finds plenty to enjoy from the colourful characters that Chester has to offer - and that includes the staff. Tell us an interesting facts about you: So far I have been to 85 different zoos all over the world and aim to visit as many as I possibly can.
Why did you become a keeper? When I was younger, the idea of being a zookeeper was up there with being an astronaut - like "not a proper job but someone somewhere must be lucky enough to do it". Wildlife Connections is a NEW project led by Chester Zoo to create safe spaces for our most precious local wildlife. Common eider ducklings (and one spectacled eider at bottom left) sit on their haul-out while waiting to have their tub cleaned.
Instead, we slowly introduced the duckling into a small exhibit with just one adult female and her mate.
The first few introductions were confusing for all three ducks; the chick couldn’t figure out why its “mom” was running away. San Diego’s lovely climate is quite different from the weather these arctic birds are used to.


After the trauma of the birth is all said and done with, we get to see how it mingles with the rest of the herd. The twilight section - aardvarks, meerkats, porcupines, fruit bats, red pandas, giant anteaters, rock hyrax, sloths, sengi, naked mole rats, mouse deer, dwarf mongoose, visayan warty pigs and many more. I have also been on Total Wipeout and my colleagues love to make me cringe by watching it over and over again on lunch times! The animal kingdom has always fascinated me and I enjoy being outdoors and getting stuck in with practical jobs, so becoming a zookeeper seemed like a dream career.
It is really rewarding when the animals actually appreciate your hard work (which isn't that often). It is a great organisation with an amazing vision and there's a real feel good factor to working here.
As a result, we do not have any eiders at the San Diego Zoo or at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
When I was leaving school I thought "what have I got to lose?" so I pursued it and here I am at Chester Zoo 8 years later, living the dream.
An example would be if I spend an hour collecting big, heavy rotten logs for the aardvarks and they spend ages ripping the logs apart foraging for bugs. I am very much looking forward to the future of Chester Zoo and Act for Wildlife and feel proud to be a part of it.
If you Google them, keep in mind that the beauty of the male’s iridescent blue latticework of feathers on his back and his bright orange breast is completely lost on something as simple and crude as an LCD monitor. It was big news for the program that this egg hatched, but it posed a problem for us keepers; it was her first duckling, and she didn’t know how to take care of it.
Each species seemed to have its own reaction when learning they were about to be picked up and moved to a clean tub.


However, if you are lucky to see them when they're up and active you can appreciate what amazing, unique creatures they are.
If you are looking for an excuse to travel to the Steller’s native range in Alaska, may I suggest that seeing just one breeding male in the flesh would justify the trip!
The king and Steller’s ducklings saw me and instantly jumped into the water and swam away in full “abandon-ship” mode. Anyway, before I came to San Diego, I worked with a team of biologists and organizations trying to reverse the Steller’s dwindling population. Ducks are known to imprint quite easily, and a lone duckling almost definitely imprints on a human caring for it. The common eiders’ saw me coming and sat there unmoving but chirping as I picked them up one by one.
Though the scope of the program was large, I had the pleasure to simply act as their keeper.
Imagine a group of children hearing the ice cream man come down their street on a hot summer day. I don’t know why these ducks have such different reactions to the same stimulus; possibly the Steller’s ducklings are more prone to being predated, while the spectacled ducklings hatch in safer regions where curiosity is more rewarded.



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