By Jane Eleanor Warman-Matheny
I believe this is a picture of my first Cousin, Megan who was born in North Wales June 29, 1954. She loved animals from the moment she saw them and touching any animal was never a fearful experience. Just before immigrating to Canada in 1956 she went to the Chester Zoo with her Mom and Sister Pauline on the Bus from Prestatyn, North Wales as excited as a toddler could be that she was going to see animals other than farm animals and as the story went she was over the moon and could talk of nothing else for months. After Immigrating to Canada my Uncle began working at his trade as an technician on Helicopters and Airplanes and he would accompany government research teams that travelled to the extreme North of Canada in the Artic as their technician for all engine repair and maintenance of their equipment, radios and flight engines. Each time he went away it would be for up to three months and of course his family missed him greatly. Megan always asked him to bring her a Penguin and of course my Uncle would tell her he would do his best. On his return he would bring her crude artistic creations of Penguins from the Eskimos he traded with for chocolate and cigarettes. Thus began her collection of toy Penguins and she treasured them. In her mid twenties she moved to Florida, U.S. and I missed her terribly. We stayed in touch and when she found herself living now all alone she finally moved back to Canada at 53 yrs. old in 2007 and she came to where the rest of her Welsh relatives had settled here in Vancouver, B.C. With 5 suitcases and half a dozen boxes as her only personal items there were only a few Penguins that were unpacked. Her dad had brought several soap stone carvings and hand made seal skin Penguins which became items of considerable value after those many years and she had to sell them in the last couple of years to support herself after her husband died. She was only home in Canada 5 months when she became quite ill and was diagnosed with wide spread inoperable cancer. I took care of her for as long as she was able to stay at home and went with her to hospice for 77 days until she peacefully fell asleep on April 22, 2008. During those hospice days Megan's room began to fill up with beautiful little stuffed Toy Penguins to very large Emperor Penguin Families and she was like a young girl all over again. Those days were filled with lots of laughter and reminiscing and music that we both loved and occasionally we even danced to after a few glasses of wine. I took hundreds of pictures of her and she was always surrounded with her new collection of every size Penguin and it was beautiful to have had that time with her. Each of us in the family kept one as a wonderful reminder of her gentle spirit and love of all God's animals. In total there were over 50 Penguins that we shared with the Vancouver Sick Children's Hospital Cancer Ward. In looking back to my personal relationship with her I am always reminded of our early years as small girls on my Grandfather's Farm in North Wales and the very big adventure of immigrating to Canada in 1956. She and I had so much in common and our love of animals began back to the time we could barely walk or talk. Megan visited the Chester Zoo several times through her life. I've visited the Chester Zoo twice so far, first in 1972 and then in 2002. I loved it and I would like to visit again now that you have "The Islands" to explore. How wonderful for the local children to have such a first class environment to visit and enjoy. I hope you enjoy this little bit of history from 2 girls who always remembered those visits.
See more: Amphibians, Mammals, Special Zoo Moments