Festive treats

Father Christmas won’t be the only one delivering piles of treats this year as DZG’s very own Santa, storeman Bill Newton, has made sure we’re well stocked to give our animals some festive surprises – and yes, sprouts are on the menu!

With his meticulous ordering system, Bill has to ensure we’ve got enough fresh and dry food supplies to cater for more than 1,500 animals over the Yuletide period.

Bill, who’s worked here for over 14 years, said: “Suppliers usually have an extended holiday over Christmas and so we have to make sure we have enough food to last us.

“I always have an idea of how much we’ll need by looking historically at what each animal section has ordered and then I start building up certain stocks throughout December and sort it all out on a rotation basis based on best before dates.

“And seasonal fruit and vegetables don’t go off as quickly at this time of year because of the colder weather, which also helps us out.

“There’s a lot of juggling involved but when you’ve done it for as long as I have you soon get the hang of it.”

And although December 25 is the only day DZG closes to the public, it’s business as usual for the keepers who still have to feed and clean out all the animals.

Bill added: “During Christmas week we make sure we sort out three days’ supply of food for every section and distribute it around the site, so they’ve got enough food to last them over the immediate Christmas period when we’re not in, before we return to work and start all over again.”