Childhood recollections of DZG prompted a return visit for John Brabbins of Wolverhampton five decades on! and a continuing trip down Memory Lane.
John, aged 65, of Merry Hill, said: “During my childhood in the 1950s I looked forward every April to my birthday treat our annual visit to Dudley Zoo. The trip was always on a Wednesday, which was half price entrance fee! “I remember riding on the top of a yellow and green trolley bus from Wolverhampton to Dudley and standing impatiently in a long queue at the zoo’s iconic ‘waves’ entrance. “There was always a picnic on the grass, or a seat of we could get one it really was that crowded in those days in the castle courtyard and a ride on the miniature railway by the bear ravine, plus a chance to see all those wonderful animals. “What more could a 50’s youngster want for his birthday!” He added: “I am sure these visits fostered my lifelong love of interest in all animals and over the years I visited many zoos, returning to DZG in 2007 with my wife. “We were impressed by the changes and improvements that had taken place since earlier and the following year for my 61st birthday I received a great surprise a Keeper For a Day experience!”
Friendly and so enthusiastic
He added: “What an extraordinary day! I got to see behind the scenes where animals live and what they eat had fascinated me since those childhood visits. “I met a group of remarkable people dedicated to the welfare and conservation of the species they look after with so much care, and who are so friendly and so enthusiastic to share their knowledge and interest.” John has repeated the experience for five consecutive birthdays and he and his wife have become season ticket holders and have also adopted male Asiatic lion, Itar. He said: “One final surprise for my 65th birthday was a retirement gift from work colleagues of an adoption package for black lemur Florence, plus cash to spend as I wished. “I have added my first week’s pension to this amount and made it up to a £250 donation to DZG to the furtherance of the excellent work in progress with thanks for so many happy memories, and hopefully, for many more to come. “I realise that this is only a drop in the ocean compared to the huge sums you need to keep DZG running and improving, but I hope you will be able to use it for some small project or for the general welfare of the animals.” DZG CEO Peter Suddock said: “We can’t thank John enough for his continued support over the years and for his very generous donation. “We are immensely lucky to have such loyal members and their constant interest in the business and regular visits are much valued.”
CAPTION: Senior keeper Laura Robbins, John Brabbins and CEO Peter Suddock with Brazilian tapirs.