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Visiting the zoo as a baby

By Ian Price

Many of the early visits to the zoo with my parents featured conversations with long standing keepers and in particular encounters with Mr Mottershead. Through the eyes of a child Mr Mottershead was almost a big an attraction as the animals himself, it would be fair to say and not a criticism but a quality that he appeared slightly eccentric, even funny to a child, always busy, always in a rush to be doing something and always running late due to his schedule and willingness to engage with people.

He seemed to love to see the awe on children’s faces when they were approached by a roaring lion and by the looks of wonder that seeing these animals for the first time meant to kids like me.

Sometimes an animal, a small primate or a parrot accompanied him. I can still picture him one day working his way around the zoo with a parrot that refused to leave his side and had been abandoned by its owners and left at the main entrance, but under his instruction the bird was still given a home.

He also had a side that was much sterner and liked to see respect for the animals living there, he had a dislike of anyone shaking fences or bars or aggravating the animals and would not compromise the zoo’s guidelines for visiting the zoo.

He was strict about no feeding the animals and would not budge on the policy regardless of who was protesting at the time. He could make you aware that you were a visitor in the animal’s home and so you should respect that accordingly.

Whilst it is delightful to speak of memories regarding Mr Mottershead, it is also only fair to speak of how proud he would have been of the modern zoo and how astonished he would have been in the progress made.

See more: Friends and family, Mottershead Family