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1940

Tough times at the zoo

By Chester Zoo

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When the war started a number of the men that worked at the zoo were called up, meaning a lack of zoo keepers to look after the animals. To help the zoo during this time a number of girls - some aged just 14 and 15 - gave their support in feeding the animals. Mr Mottershead said the girls have shown more pluck than new men recruits, and the animals have taken to them more quickly.

The war-time feeding of the animals revealed some new tastes for some of the species' - for example the leopards preferred poultry heads to their usual steak of horse meat. Many local firms were happy to donate their 'scraps' to the zoo in order to feed the animals during this difficult time.

Only one animal was killed during an air raid – a coypu that was hit by shrapnel from ant-aircraft guns situated in surrounding fields but many others including the penguins and chimps died from lack of food. Local people and businesses, now firmly on the side of the zoo were very generous with their donations and the January 1941 our zoo news records thanks to Littlewoods, Marks and Spencers, Mac Fisheries and Wilkinsons.

See more: Mottershead Family