Back to the 50s

An old book discovered in the attic as she prepared to move house brought back fond memories of DZG for Mrs Lynette Collins, of Sedgley.

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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 the1950s 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.”

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.”

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dzg_book_3web_0CAPTIONS: TOP: Cat keeper Ernie Collins cleans out a leopard cage in the late 1950s. ABOVE: Trainee keeper Alex Randle with the book about Dudley Zoo’s animal collection in the 1950s.