Happy 80th Pat

We’ve put in a special phone call today to wish a lady born at Dudley Zoo exactly 80 years ago a very happy birthday.

Pictured 12 years ago on the left, Pat Beale – the daughter of one of the zoo’s original keepers when it opened to the public in May 1937 – was born on July 11, 1938 in one of the onsite keepers’ cottages.

Zoo Manager Matt Lewis, who lives in the same row of cottages with his family now, chatted to the birthday girl at her home in Swindon, Wiltshire, and invited her back to her Black Country birthplace to visit our animals.

We heard about Pat’s 80th milestone after her 77-year-old brother Mick Quinn, who still lives in Dudley, brought in family snaps of himself and his two sisters and one of their father James Quinn just before he joined Dudley Zoo. He is pictured at his first daughter Olga’s christening.

Mick said: “My parents and eldest sister Olga moved into one of the cottages when Dad started his job at the zoo and Pat was born there. The family left after about three years so she doesn’t remember much about her time there as a toddler.

“We’re very grateful to Dudley Zoo for helping make Pat’s day extra special. She has been back to the zoo since and if she is well enough I’m sure she’d love to come and visit again.”

Matt said: “It was a pleasure to chat with Pat and talk about her family memories of the zoo. We hope she has a wonderful day.”

Siblings Pat, Mick and Olga Miller all have July birthdays and former zoo resident Olga, who now lives in South Wales, turns 84 on Friday.

Many happy returns!