Lemurs led to a happy-ever-after for Chesterfield woman, Susan Muir, who conquered eating disorders and met the love of her life, all thanks to DZG’s cheeky little primates.
And as a thank you to her furry friends newlywed Susan called in on Lemur Wood to hand over a few special treats in her wedding gown!
Susan, 42, battled with bulimia and anorexia for more than a decade, but with support from good friend, Robert Pearce now her husband and therapy sessions she managed to turn her life around. And when things looked bleak she cheered herself up with regular visits to DZG. She said: “Three years ago I had no confidence, and my self esteem had plummeted. I had known Robert 20 years earlier, and he came back into my life as a very supportive friend, encouraging me to do something positive.
“My therapist had told me to go out and do something I enjoyed, and Robert knew I liked animals and photography, so he came up with the idea of visiting various zoos within travelling distance of Chesterfield, and taking pictures.
“When we discovered Dudley Zoological Gardens and Lemur Wood we were amazed at the experience; being able to walk through the lemurs’ enclosure was so magical, we stood there for hours.”
A keen wildlife photographer, Susan said that the combination of the animals, the historic architecture of the castle and the unique Tecton buildings made DZG unlike any other tourist attraction or beauty spot in the UK.
She said: “Rob noticed that I was greatly improved when I’d been at Dudley with the lemurs, so we started visiting DZG almost every weekend, and I began to feel much more relaxed and contented, and mentally stimulated.
“The zoo visits became my medicine and I stabilised, and began to lead a normal life again. I was much happier and healthier.”
In May 2011, HGV driver Robert asked Susan to marry him and she agreed – as long as lemurs were involved!
They married in June and as the couple left church they attached lemur tails, which Susan had made from faux fur, to their wedding finery and left the ceremony to the soundtrack of the 1995 DreamWorks film Madagascar.
And following their honeymoon they returned to Lemur Wood for a Meet and Greet animal encounter, with Susan in her full wedding regalia.
Susan said: “Dudley was where it all started. We found a passion for each other, and for lemurs, and I wanted my wedding dress blessed by the lemurs before I packed it away.”
DZG Head of Media and Communications, Jill Hitchman, said: “It’s a fantastic story. Susan and Robert are very big supporters of DZG and you’ll often find them taking pictures in Lemur Wood, so it was a pleasure to be able to arrange a special Meet and Greet.
“I explained to Susan that the lemurs wouldn’t show much respect for her lovely wedding dress and that they might mark it, but she said she could think of nothing nicer than seeing lemur pawprints on the fabric and didn’t mind in the least.
“She had a fantastic time with the lemurs, although I think a few of the visitors were amused when they saw her dressed in her gorgeous full length wedding outfit heading into Lemur Wood!”
CAPTIONS: Happy ending for bride, Susan Muir, thanks to Lemur Wood.
CENTRE: Leaving church with new husband Robert