Meet Our Team 11/08/2016

Alan

How long have you worked here? Nearly 20 years

What animals do you work with? Asian elephants

Tell us an interesting facts about you: I always wanted to work with animals but I started my career in fine optics industry. After 12 years of working in a cut throat industry I started volunteering in a small local zoo at the weekends and eventually took the plunge and gave up my well paid job and went into the world of zoo’s. I eventually ended up at Chester and my career with elephants began.

I’ve seen the zoo change immensely in this time with huge improvements in the lives of the elephants. Working with the animals is the best part of the job and even after twenty years they still surprise me. Zookeeping is a job of highs and lows the death of female elephant Sheba was a huge low spot. She was a special animal and the zoo has not been quite the same place for me since she went.

Nandita - baby elephant born at Chester Zoo
Asian elephant calf, Nandita

I can’t really explain why but something went with her. Zoo keeping also robs you of valuable family time and I miss my boys at the weekends and lose out on quite a lot. On the plus side I enjoy coming to work and having worked in the really cut throat optics industry that remains a huge bonus. The highlight of my career at Chester has to be the first birth I witnessed. Sithami’s arrival and Thi’s acceptance of her baby changed everything for Chester and its elephant program. I’ve seen fourteen other births since but that was a special moment.

Chester zoo I feel gets most things right seeing the detail that has gone into Islands underlined this. Actually importing the boats, tuk tuks etc for me makes the difference and keeps us ahead of the game. I’m massively impressed with the zoos rounded approach to the Palm oil issue and the big effort we have put in to raise awareness again doing the right thing.

Alan Littlehales - Chester Zoo

The elephant section is involved in the Assam Haithi project and I’m hoping to take my knowledge and expertise in elephant foot care and management out there in the near future. Elephants are difficult to keep correctly and we are on the front line in the fight against the EEHV virus that is claiming so many young elephants around the world. Our philosophy continues to evolve as does the habitat our animals live in.

Sometimes I feel sorry for the zoo as it is almost impossible to keep up with what we want (Cheshire would make a nice elephant paddock). But they continue to invest in our elephants and our program - long may it continue.