Meet Our Team 11/08/2016

Peter

How long have you worked here? 10 months as a keeper, but previously an intern on both the Rhino and Twilight teams.

What animals do you work with? Rodrigues fruit bat, Seba's fruit bat, lesser hedgehog tenrec, round-eared sengi, naked mole rat, Turkish spiny mouse, dwarf mongoose, Philippine mouse deer, Gambian pouched rat, Linne's two toed sloth, northern Luzon cloud rat, narrow-striped boky boky, northern tree shrew, meerkat, porcupine, rock hyrax, aardvark, Visayan warty pig, giant anteater, pudu, red panda, capybara.

Tell us an interesting facts about yourself: I don't stop once I leave work– I have a lot of animals of my own at home from radiated tortoises to parma wallabies, so the feeding and cleaning starts all over again each evening.

I have a good memory for dates and numbers. My colleagues often find it weird that I can pluck an animal's birth date or ID number instantly off the top of my head.

I'm a bit of a Chester Zoo geek, I grew up visiting and absolutely love the place and I'm fascinated by the zoo's history. I have a collection of memorabilia, guide books and zoo magazines from throughout the zoos history.

Peter Watson - Zookeeper at Chester Zoo

Why did you become a keeper? I have been fascinated by animals for as long as I can remember. I decided I was going to be a zookeeper pretty much from the moment I could talk and I haven't looked back since

What’s your favourite animal and why? Any of my colleagues would quickly tell you that my favourite species is the round-eared sengi and I do have a soft spot for them. They are such a unique species with fascinating behaviour and for such small animals they all have really unique characters. Their care is all about attention to detail and I like everything to be just right, making them the perfect species for me!

Saying that it is hard to pin me down to my absolute favourite, but essentially anything small and weird interests me. I do also have a bit of an obsession with pygmy hippos, so a bit of an anomaly, but justified as they are a small species of hippo!

What’s the best part of your job? There is nothing better than seeing any animal under your care thriving, behaving naturally and ultimately reproducing. I love coming to work every day because you can guarantee no day will be the same, the animals make sure of that.

Peter Watson - Chester Zoo

What’s the worst part of your job? Taking time off! I hate being away from the zoo for too long and missing out on any important mile stones in the animals lives. So much can happen even in just a week and it can be difficult to get back up to speed.

There's also the obvious down side of losing an animal. As hard as you try it is impossible not to become attached to the animals you're working with and it never gets any easier when they die.

What’s been your most memorable moment in your career to date? That would have to be achieving a Chester Zoo first breeding of round-eared sengi after months of hard work building enclosures and perfecting their husbandry. We've gone on to breed several more since, but I still get excited and turn in to a big kid each time.

I was also lucky enough to meet Sir David Attenborough when he was doing some filming in the zoo when I was an intern with the Rhino team.

What’s so special about Chester Zoo? First and foremost it is an amazing place to be. The atmosphere is brilliant and I feel privileged to be working here. The fact that the zoo is always evolving and seeing developments such as Islands completed makes it a really exciting place to be.

It is also constantly working to conserve endangered species as well as driving improvements to animal welfare and educating people on the plight facing so many species. I'm proud to be able to work here and play my part.