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1950's

Working at Chester Zoo Part 2

By Tanny (Edwin) Robinson

I was a bird keeper at Chester Zoo, however when I got the chance I would go around to see other creatures and the giant anteater was one of my favourite's, along with the Coatimundi, both of them would poke their noses into my pockets seeking some gift hidden there.

There was only one polar bear and I didn't go to look at the bear that much and this is the only picture I have of it. I had a nerve wrecking moment one morning when, I as usual being the first keeper to arrive at work. I rode my push-bike from the entrance down to the big house (Oakfield) and as I turned the corner on the left of the house I spotted a large white animal in the morning gloom, it disappeared around the next corner where I had to clock on. I immediately thought of the polar bear. I got off my bike and silently went to the corner with a palpitating heart and peered around. With a great relief I discovered a cow from the local farm had broken into the zoo in the night.

The picture of me on the elephant was taken about 1950 when I was about the age of eleven; that makes me roughly eleven years younger than Mr. Motterhead's daughter. I am the lad with the blonde hair, my brother next to me. The mahout would call out to the elephant with what sounded like, ‘Bah-ha’ I think this how Barbar got her name.

I never knew why but the Tiger hated me and always dashed over with a roar and stretch up the high fence trying to get at me, the first time he did it almost caused me to fall off my bike, I got used to it in the end and would smile and wave a greeting to him.

The brown bears also lived in a large pit and this one would sit waving to the people to throw it some food, in those days people were allowed to feed the animals, especially this bear.

Read more from Tanny here.

See more: Birds, Staff