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1939

War changes life at the zoo

By Chester Zoo

George Mottershead thought about the impact war would have on the zoo and whether he might have to officially close for the duration of it. The Mottershead family were quietly determined to keep the zoo open and would do whatever they could to manage.

It was decided that the aquarium, in the basement of Oakfield, would be used as an air raid shelter, and all people dressed in the uniform of H.M. Forces would pay half price entrance fee to the zoo. If there was an air raid about to take place the zoo would receive a telephone call warning them which would give them enough time to lock up all the animals.

The blackout had started and every window and lighted space had to be covered when night came to avoid enemy planes from bombing the area, as the port for Liverpool was a target. At thirteen years old June Mottershead was co-opted to be an air raid warden at Chester Zoo, and was sent on a course on how to deal with incendiary bombs.

As staff numbers dwindled due to men and women being called away to help the war effort, June began to take on more responsibility at the zoo particulalry when keepers were called away to war.

See more: Mottershead Family