Blackpool Zoo keeper retires after nearly half a century

Published
Image caption,
The longest-serving Blackpool Zoo keeper joined two years after it opened

The longest-serving keeper at Blackpool Zoo is retiring after nearly half a century in the job.

Peter Morris was 17 when he joined the zoo as a trainee in 1973, a year after it opened at the Royal Lancashire Showground.

He said he was once chased by an ostrich who pulled his jacket off and left him with bruised ribs.

Ostriches were a "nasty piece of work", he said, reflecting that he preferred camels who were "real characters".

Mr Morris, who has also worked with bison, zebra, tapir and elephants, spent more than 20 years working with primates.

"I can't believe it has gone so quickly," he said, adding: "There was nothing else I ever wanted to do."

Image source, Blackpool Zoo
Image caption,
Peter Morris wrote to the zoo when he was 15 asking for a job

He was working on a dairy farm in 1971, aged 15, when he heard a zoo was being built in Blackpool and so wrote a letter asking for a job saying he was interested in wildlife and animals.

Two years later he landed his dream job as a trainee keeper and he cycled to work from Preston every day.

Mr Morris said his favourite animals during his long career have been the camels.

"Camels are good to work with - they are real characters," he said.

Image source, Blackpool Zoo
Image caption,
Peter Morris, who is retiring after 48 years at Blackpool Zoo, is a big fan of camels

He has no doubt about the worst of the creatures he has worked with after the ostrich chase.

"The ostrich - such a nasty piece of work," he said.

Mr Morris said he turned down promotions as he "wanted to stay working with the animals which I have always loved".

Charlotte Pennie, Head of Primates at Blackpool Zoo, said he would be "greatly missed by everyone" because he was "funny, caring and can talk for England".

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