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1939

Chester Zoo starts its first adoption scheme

By Chester Zoo

In September 1939 war was declared on Germany and the zoo entered what was to be one of the most difficult periods in its history. With the war came an immediate shortage of both food and labour.

Chester Zoo set up its very first animal adoption scheme, to provide funds for the influx of evacuated animals to the zoo during the war. For 14/6 a week you could adopt a lion, or for 1s. 6d. a week you could become the 'guardian' of an otter! This was an exciting concept for supporters at the time who were able to visit their adopted animal at anytime - and could even play with it! The scheme received interest from animal lovers all over the country.

The animals that had been adopted had a label on the cage with the name and address of the person who had adopted it and for what period. At the age of 13 June Mottershead became the 'guardian' of one of the lion cubs and George Mottershead adopted a macaw.

The scheme was the first of its kind and it meant that the zoo didn't have to close it's gates. Many zoos were forced to close, some shooting the animals they could no longer to feed, but George Mottershead was determined and didn't give up!

See more: Mottershead Family, Special Zoo Moments