Halloween Hocus Pocus at Dudley Zoo

Halloween fun – here’s 10-year-old Rhiannon Westwood and Kevin Adams, from Sedgley, entering into the Halloween spirit.

FANG-TASTIC! That was the verdict from witches, ghosties and ghoul friends who joined the Hocus Pocus family fun at Dudley Zoological Gardens last night.

Creepy Crawly Crafts and monster face painting took place in the Discovery Centre and Queen Mary Suite where there was also some very scary dancing!

Here’s 10-year-old Rhiannon Westwood and Kevin Adams, from Sedgley, entering into the Hallowe’en spirit.

There’s always something interesting going on at Dudley Zoo. Check out the daily updates in Latest ZooNooz at  www.dudleyzoo.org.uk


Last chance for Dudley Zoo free panto tickets

Hurry, hurry, it’s your last chance to grab free panto tickets!

Dudley Zoological Gardens is sponsoring the dress rehearsal of Jack and The Beanstalk at The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton and has got more than a thousand tickets to give away for the December 7 panto date.

The family favourite will feature Loose Women presenter Sherrie Hewson, veteran entertainer Keith Harris, plus the lovable Orville, with Nigel Ellacott joining the line-up as the distinctive dame.

DZG CEO Peter Suddock, said: “We are delighted to be teaming up with a premier theatre that’s on our doorstep and hope everyone will enjoy Jack and The Beanstalk at The Grand – particularly those who join us at the dress rehearsal – and then book into Santa’s Jack and The Beanstalk-themed grotto at DZG.”
Dudley Zoo is also looking for charities and local organisations who would like to join them at the dress rehearsal on Friday, December 7 at The Grand, in Wolverhampton, starting at 7pm.

If you think YOU or someone you know is eligible please get in touch and tell them why.

Contact julia.marketing@dudleyzoo.org.uk or call  01384 215313 – there are more than a thousand tickets to give away!!


Sedgley Woman Uncovers Memories of Dudley Zoo

Trainee keeper Alex Randle with the book about Dudley Zoo’s animal collection in the 1950s.

An old book discovered in the attic as she prepared to move house brought back fond memories of Dudley Zoological Gardens (DZG) for Mrs Lynette Collins of Sedgley recently.

Among the yellowing pages of 1960’s hardback The Zoo Keeper, by D H S Risdon, Lynette found a photograph of her late father-in-law, Ernie Collins, who headed up DZG’s Cats’ Section during the 1950s and early 60s.

 Lynette said: “The book is all about Dudley Zoo’s collection and reading it brought the memories flooding back and I remembered lots of stories Ernie used to tell about the zoo animals and staff.
“The photograph shows him cleaning out a leopard’s cage and the text explains the basic principles of zoo keeping, highlighting hard physical work and common sense as key to the job!”
She added: “I have donated the book to DZG archives as I’m sure they will find it most interesting.”

Insight into Dudley Zoo’s History

DZG Head of Media and Communications, Jill Hitchman, said: “The book offers a fascinating insight into DZG’s collection in the 1950s and early 60s and was written by Donald Risdon who was the zoo’s General Manager at that time.

 “It concludes with A Day in the Life of a Keeper, which is almost identical to today’s procedures and explains the importance of routine and commitment.
“One area that has changed is uniform – back in the 1950s staff used to wear a formal jacket and peaked cap, but modern-day zoo keepers wear more comfortable, casual, less restrictive clothes.”
She added: “The book has now been added to our new archives department and has already been passed around several members of staff who have found it very interesting reading.”


Get Ready For Lift-off With Launch Of Vintage Chairlift at Dudley Zoo

Sedgley residents and visitors from across the UK can get ready for lift-off with the launch of the much-loved chairlift at Dudley Zoological Gardens this Friday, August  24.
The official ceremony, which will be carried out by BBC Radio WM presenter Jenny Wilkes, follows a three-month £117,000 Heritage Lottery-funded refurbishment of the country’s only vintage chairlift.
Work included a full refurbishment of the 41 chairs and roller system which carries the cable, plus an overhaul of the engine – a British-made DC which is electrically-driven with a reduction gearbox. The chairlift was last operated in 2002.

Dudley Zoo CEO, Peter Suddock, says: “We are so thrilled this is happening. One of the most common questions we are asked by national and overseas visitors is: ‘When’s the chairlift going to be running?’ so we are very well aware the refurbishment will create lots of interest.”

Finance for the project is via a £1.2million bid for Heritage Lottery Funding, which will also see the restoration of four of the site’s 12 listed Modernist structures which form part of the world’s largest single collection of Tecton buildings designed by renowned architect Berthold Lubetkin.

Mr Suddock adds: “It’s a fantastic year. Not only is it our 75th anniversary, we’ll also be finalising plans for the new entrance, retail complex and Tecton interpretation centre which will go on public display.There will also be additions to the animal collection and, of course, the chairlift will be restored, so there’s a lot to celebrate.”

Chairlift Was First Passenger-carrying Aerial Ropeway In England

The chairlift at Dudley Zoo was the first passenger-carrying aerial ropeway to be installed in England. It transports visitors from the zoo’s lower zone to the 11th century Dudley Castle on the upper level within a two-minute journey offering panoramic views across Sandwell to Birmingham, before travelling directly over flamingos and rare breeds of sheep grazing on the banks.

Mr Suddock says: “We have all the original drawings and, despite its age, the changes to the chairlift mainly centre on cosmetic refurbishment where it has suffered exposure to the elements and some slight modifications to the T-bars on the chairs. It’s a fantastic piece of machinery and a tribute to 1950’s engineering techniques.”
The chairlift opened to DZG’s visitors on May 11, 1958 and within six months had carried more than 154,000 passengers – approximately one third of persons visiting the zoo during that period.
Mr Suddock adds: “Early passengers paid sixpence for their journey, but 2012 travellers will be able to use the facility for free.”
Visit the Dudley Zoo website for more information on the exciting refurbishment of this 1950s chairlift.

Sedgley zookeeper Lesley puts camels through their paces at Dudley Zoo

Trainee keeper Lesley (then Brindley) at DZG camels section in 1989.

They may be known as the ships of the desert, but closer to home in Dudley, one Sedgley zookeeper is making sure two young Bactrian camels are on the right course.

Dudley Zoo keeper, Lesley Lewis, 39, first worked with camels at the leading tourist attraction at the age of 16.

She says: “Charlie and Jimandi are very big animals, and we need to be able to control them properly.

“They are just two years old and I am training them to respond to hand signals, and rewarding them with a high five and their favourite treat of carrots.
“When they have learned basic commands, we will introduce them to wearing head collars.”
Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus) are large, even-toed ungulates native to the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts of Mongolia and Xinjiang with two fat-storing humps.

Countdown to Dudley Zoo’s 75th anniversary. . .

Team Leader, Birds, Kellie Piper, with three of the 21 fibreglass penguins that will mark the launch of Penguin Bay and Dudley Zoo’s 75th anniversary.

The Countdown to the Bank Holiday anniversary launch of the £40,000 Penguin Bay at Dudley Zoo has begun.

 Wet and windy weather throughout the week hampered staff working on the walkthrough experience that opens to the public on Sunday, May 6 – the zoo’s 75th birthday – but final preparations are now underway.




The three-month-long project has doubled the size of Dudley Zoo’s enclosure for 70 rare Humboldt   penguins – one of the largest colonies in Europe – and decking walkways and glass viewing platforms will bring visitors closer to the endangered South American birds.
DZG  CEO Peter Suddock, said: “For years customers have asked to get nearer to our colony of rare Humboldt penguins and the new layout means the whole family will be able to do just that, plus have a fantastic overhead viewing platform to watch them swimming.
“It will give the 70-plus birds more space and we have used a rock and sand-based substrate to mimic their wild habitat.”
Mr Suddock added: “Work has taken three months to complete and it has been particularly laborious as all of the birds were in situ throughout the whole of the programme which means we have been unable to use mechanical diggers for the operation.
“The penguins have been entertained by it all, and have been watching progress from the poolside.”




The £40,000 project will also include refurbishment of nest boxes, checking and resealing of the pool and provision of a creche for young Humboldts.

The scheme, which has been designed in-house, has been funded by DZG with a £3,000  donation from Darlaston-based company Rubery Owen.
 DZG is home to one of the largest groups of Humboldt penguins in Europe, with more than 70 birds currently in the colony. The highly successful conservation programme has been recognised by BIAZA (the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums), winning its award for sustained breeding of a species in captivity.


21 fibreglass penguins join colony


To mark Sunday’s anniversary the zoo has taken delivery of 21 bright birds!

The fibreglass penguins are painted in a rainbow of shades and will feature around the site – plus a whole load of surprise venues  in coming weeks!
DZG Head of Media and Communications, Jill Hitchman, said: “They’re fab models and really make everyone smile when they see them.
“We’ve named them all Dudley and have 21 in honour of Pingu, our oldest Humboldt penguin who celebrated his 21st birthday last week (Apr 24), and they will be placed around the Zoological Gardens in a special Penguin Trail.
“The 21 Dudleys will also be taking part in a whole series of adventures at schools, shopping centres and may even be going on holiday, we’ll just have to see where they turn up!”


Birthday celebrations at Dudley Zoo


Anniversary celebrations will start on Sunday, May 6 – the date the zoo opened to the public in 1937 – and continue throughout the next 12 months.

Two anniversary stars are already settling in; Amur tiger Tschuna and Sumatran tiger, Daseep, transferred in February and have already become visitors’ favourites.
Modification work to the big cats’ enclosure created an eye-level glass viewing area offering never-before-seen angles of the iconic triple Tecton complex, plus a live tiger cam for off-site viewing.
Also on the list is the restoration of the 1958 chairlift – one of the oldest in the country. Work will begin in May with midsummer completion and offer visitors a view from the air of some of the rarest animals in the world.
Mr Suddock added: “It’s going to be a fantastic year; not only is it our 75th anniversary, we’ll also be finalising plans for the new entrance, retail complex and Tecton interpretation centre, there are wonderful additions to the animal collection and, of course, the chairlift will be restored, so there’s a lot to celebrate.”
Visit the Dudley Zoo website for more information.

Easter eggs-travaganza at Dudley Zoo

Dudley Zoo trainee keeper Hannah Follows, of Gornal, with giant English rabbit, Honey.

Giant English rabbits will be hopping on to the Easter scene at Dudley Zoological Gardens this week to join a fortnight’s eggs-travaganza at the Castle Hill site.

Bonny bunnies Honey, Hazel and Holly will be joining the holiday funtime as youngsters take part in the zoo’s annual Easter Trail with a free chocolate rabbit for all completed entries.
There’s also a chance to enter a prize draw to win a year-long adoption package for a giant English rabbit – these mega bunnies weigh in at around 16lbs!
There’s an Easter bonnet parade at 1.30pm on Sunday (April 8) in the Castle Courtyard with a medal for all entries and a special Farmyard Meet and Greet for the winner of the best hat.
And for crafty young visitors, there are Easter activities in the Farm Barn and Discovery Centre, including the opportunity to decorate a plant pot and receive free pumpkin seeds (they’ll come in handy in autumn for the zoo’s Hallowe’en competition).


Elsewhere across the 40-acre site there’s a chance to get close to newly-arrived tigers, Tschuna and Daseep via a peek through a glass viewing panel – scary! – and say hello to one-year-old Bornean orang utan, Sprout.
And see work in progress on Penguin Bay, the zoo’s 2012 walkthrough experience which allows visitors to get close to the 70-strong group of rare Humboldts penguins – the largest colony in the UK.
Penguin Bay is due to launch on May 6, the 75th anniversary of the date the zoo opened to the public in 1937.
Marketing Manager, Julia Lockett, says: “We’ve got lots lined up throughout the Easter hols so come along and join the fun, there’s something for all ages to enjoy, and a chance to get close to the world’s rarest animals and learn about some of our important worldwide conservation projects.”
Checkout our Easter eggs-travaganza at www.dudleyzoo.org.uk or call 01384 215313 for details.

Sedgley student makes a clean sweep at Dudley Zoo

Dudley College Animal Management student, Kelly Fillingham, aged 18, from Sedgley helps DZG trainee keeper Alex Randle clean out the Barberry sheep enclosure.

Sedgley student Kelly Fillingham is among those making a clean sweep at Dudley Zoo (DZG), thanks to a new partnership with Dudley College which is proving a hands-on success for Animal Care and Management students.

Throughout a six month period, 68 students including Kelly, spent four-week placements working alongside  Dudley Zoo keepers and Education staff in a project believed to be the first of its kind in the country.
Students’ mornings are spent cleaning enclosures, preparing food and learning what it takes to be a zookeeper. Afternoons are spent in theory sessions, with Presenter Becky Iwahashi in the Discovery Centre education block, covering enclosure design, nutrition and diet, and enrichment.
Animal Care training and handling mammals, reptiles and invertebrates is also covered and students rotate sections, working on Farm, Birds, Ungulates, Primates and Education.
Becky says: “Some students also had the chance to participate in our daily talks programme, giving them confidence in their public speaking skills and another high point was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity helping Bird staff hand rear highly endangered baby Humboldt penguins!”


DZG  CEO Peter Suddock, adds: “The DZG / Dudley College placement scheme is the only programme in the country between a zoo and neighbouring college running Animal Care and Management courses and has proved a big success in its first year.
“The placements offer an insight into the management of a leading modern animal collection and have been extremely rewarding for the majority of students – many now wish to become zookeepers themselves one day – and the physical experience has offered an accurate view of zookeeping.
“Students are also able to take advantage of the chance to ask keepers about the collection, and receive invaluable advice on how to achieve their dream job of working with animals.”


Animal Care student Gary Hardyman, 16, of West Bromwich, says: “Working at DZG brings learning to life, and I’ve even managed to overcome my phobia of spiders after handling some of the zoo’s really big ones! No day is the same – how good is that?”
Twenty-one-year-old Sam Miller, of Dudley, adds: “I love the days at the zoo and have finally found what I want to do. I wasn’t expecting to work with such a range of animals, and getting this amount of experience really helps to build your confidence.”
Twenty four students took part in the BTEC Level 2 Diploma in Animal Care with 44 students on the BTEC Level 3 extended diploma in Animal Management.
Check up on the latest updates at DZG by visiting  www.dudleyzoo.org.uk

Gornal Girl Lands Dream Job at Dudley Zoo

DZG trainee keeper Hannah Follows with Senior Keeper, and mentor, Laura Robbins and African spurred tortoises.

Animal crazy teenager Hannah Follows has scooped her dream job at Dudley Zoological Gardens (DZG).

The 16-year-old, from Gornal, who adopted her favourite species at DZG when she was still at primary school, completed both Little Keeper and Adult Keeper for a Day experiences and also did work experience two years ago, is now the site’s youngest apprentice keeper.
Hannah said: “My job is really amazing, I love it. The best bit is when animals start to trust you, and learning to trust them so you can get nearer for cleaning and feeding.”
It’s a well-trodden apprentice route as former Ellowes Hall School pupil Hannah follows in the footsteps of fellow keeper, 23-year-old Laura Robbins, whose career path is almost identical.


Laura started working at the zoo on her sixteenth birthday after several years of adopting and volunteering on site and is now using her seven years’ experience to mentor Hannah.
Laura said: “Hannah is doing really well; when I first saw her she looked familiar, but I couldn’t think why – then I remembered she had helped me with the alpacas during her first adult Keeper For a Day experience when she was just 14.
“She’s really enthusiastic about the job and we wish her well and will all be on hand to help her throughout her training.”
For more information, check out the daily updates in the Latest ZooNooz at  www.dudleyzoo.org.uk

Sedgley pupil leads countdown to Christmas at Dudley Zoo

Cotwall End Primary School pupil Eliza Lewis counts down to Christmas at Dudley Zoo

Staff at Dudley Zoological Gardens are coping with a busy festive season this year at the 40-acre site, helped along the way by Eliza Lewis, a pupil at Cotwall End Primary School, Sedgley.

Eliza, from Castle Hill, Dudley, was one of many young visitors to the zoo this festive season, who have all enjoyed a fun-packed day out full of Christmas cheer.
Santa’s Grotto, hosted in the grounds of the 11th century Dudley Castle, started on December 5 and runs through to Christmas Eve.
DZG’s Magical Winter Wonderland package includes zoo admission, a magical train ride, a visit to Santa in his grotto, a surprise gift and a fun-filled Christmas show.


Head of media and communications, Jill Hitchman, says: “We’ve got lots of festive fun planned across the site and Santa’s reindeer have been training in the courtyard for weeks in readiness for their busiest night of the year.”
She adds: “We’ve also taken on seasonal staff to cope with the usual festive rush to buy animal adoptions and Keeper For a Day packages which make fantastic gifts for all ages, and sales of our calendar are going well, too.”
The theme for 2012’s calendar is Baby Love, complete with images of a wide range of rare and endangered species born at DZG in the past 12 months – a bumper year for new arrivals.
Jill adds: “We’re all looking forward to a great Christmas time and exciting 2012. Next year is DZG’s 75th anniversary and we’ve lots of exciting new projects planned to mark our big birthday.”
For full details or to book Santa’s Grotto or a zoo experience visit www.dudleyzoo.or.uk or call 01384 215313.