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First job

By Alan Buckley

The memory is my mother’s, not mine. Her first job was as a trainee keeper at Chester Zoo. She left school at 14 and was born in 1923, so I am guessing it would have been 1937, but I suppose could have been 1938. She was called Joyce Allen and she worked at the zoo up till the early years of WW2 – either 1940 or 1941 I think. She worked closely with the Mottershead family and knew them well. In her time at the zoo she developed a love for and understanding of animals which never left her, and she has raised all 4 of us children to respect and care for all animals. She is now 91, and has memory problems, but her memories of her time at the zoo are strong and sweet. I remember stories she would tell about Mary the chimpanzee and other amazing characters and episodes from the zoo’s early years. I also remember a lovely photograph she had of her and one of the Mottershead sisters, both cradling lion cubs as they fed them, which I would love to have uploaded but unfortunately it seems to have got lost in one of mum’s house moves.

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