Meet Our Team 11/08/2016

Chris

How long have you worked here? I’ve worked at Chester Zoo since January 2015 but have been a zookeeper for seven years. I actually started at Chester in August 2008 when I did a 12 month internship.

What animals do you work with? I’m part of the carnivore team and I look after a variety of carnivores including big cats, bears, painted dogs and giant otters.

Tell us an interesting facts about you: I once helped hand rear a baby gorilla.

Why did you become a keeper? I became a keeper as I’ve always been interested in the natural world and zoology in general. I did a degree in zoology and that strengthened my desire to work with animals. Once the opportunity came up to work in a zoo I couldn’t pass it up. The chance to be involved in maintaining populations of various endangered species and to work for an organisation which is so heavily involved in important conservation is a rewarding experience.

What’s your favourite animal and why? It’s hard to pick a favourite animal or species as they’re all important in their own right but if I had to choose I’d pick the lions. Big cats have always been my interest and I am fortunate to have built a pretty good working relationship with the lions. The otters are pretty amazing too though.

What’s the best part of your job? The best part of my job is working with some fantastic species of animal on a daily basis. It’s basically something I’ve wanted to do all my life so the fact I’m now doing it is something I’m proud of. In particular, watching an animal enjoy a bit of enrichment is a rewarding experience.

Asiatic lions Kumari and Iblis

What’s the worst part of your job? The worst part of my job is probably the weather in winter as I spend a lot of time outside! It rains a lot in Cheshire.

What’s been your most memorable moment in your career to date? I’ve been very fortunate in my career so far and worked with some amazing animals. I’ve witnessed a gorilla giving birth and been involved in breeding one of the rarest cats on the planet, the Amur leopard. However, they have all been at another collection. As I’ve only been at Chester a relatively short period of time the most memorable moment has been assisting in the crate training of the Sumatran tigers. Being involved in their move to their new enclosure on Islands and seeing it run so smoothly was a particular highlight.

What’s so special about Chester Zoo? Chester Zoo is a world renowned collection and is a phenomenal zoo for both animals and visitors alike. I always came to visit the zoo when I was younger, even though I’m from miles away in the North East, so I’ve always had an affiliation with it. Now I work here it brings around a lot of opportunities in various forms and the chance to be part of it is an exciting prospect as the zoo will only continue to improve in animal husbandry and as a visitor attraction.

Have you visited any of our conservation projects abroad? If so which ones and what did you do? I’ve recently been part of a project we’re working on with the Vincent Wildlife Trust, relocating pine martens in Wales. I assisted in assembling soft release enclosures for pine martens due to be released into the forests of mid-wales – a hugely exciting opportunity which gave me the chance to be part of a native conservation programme.