P-p-pick up a pensioner at ZSL London Zoo
Monday 28 August 2006
Proving you are never too old to learn, ZSL London Zoo welcomed its oldest trainee zoo keeper this week – 80-year-old Desmond Staples.
He’s not quite giving up on his retirement yet though – retired butcher Desmond took part in ZSL London Zoo’s new Keeper for a Day programme.
Desmond is the oldest Zoo visitor to take up a place on the programme which brings participants closer to nature, while they learn about zoo keeping first-hand. He received a voucher for the day as a birthday present from his son.
He even managed to get up close and personal with ZSL London Zoo’s own senior citizens - giraffes Dawn and Crackers, who are both an astonishing 28 years old and great-grandparents themselves.
Desmond also met penguins, monkeys, raccoons and big cats during his day learning the ropes at the zoo.
As a special extra Desmond, who regularly plays Father Christmas at Ropnor Park in his hometown of Stockton-on-Tees (and has a special Father Christmas license), was given the chance to meet the zoo’s reindeer.
Desmond said: “I had such an amazing time. I knew it would be good fun but it was over and above anything I could have imagined. I learnt so much about the work that goes on at ZSL London Zoo behind the scenes. The best bit was meeting Lucifer the male lion and how loud he roared. I’ll never forget the day.”
Keeper for a Day organiser Leonie Lambert said: “Desmond is certainly the oldest person to attend the Keeper for a Day programme and we think it’s brilliant that he’s proving you’re never too old to learn new skills.
“We hope his attendance will encourage more retired people to take part in the day for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”