When Blackpool Zoo confirmed the death of its popular orangutan Vicky last week, the announcement hit Vanda Irwin particularly hard.
Mum-of-three and grandmother Vanda, 48, of Marhill Road, Blackpool, was especially saddened because she had got to know Vicky well - and even helped bottle feed her when she was a tiny baby.
Her close association with the Bornean orangutan dates from the time her dad, Brian Whatmough, was one of the keepers who helped rear the primate after her birth at the Fylde coast zoo back in 1984.
But despite Vicky’s sad passing at the age of 34, Vanda will always feel close to her favourite orangutan thanks to an incredibly life-like tattoo she underwent last year.
The image, on Vanda’s thigh, is a constant reminder of Vicky, who was one of the most popular animals in the zoo, known for her toothy smile.
Vanda, head housekeeper at the Ruskin Hotel, on Albert Road, said: “When I found out she had died, I cried my eyes out.
“When I was about 13 years old, I used to go along and see my dad bottle feed her after she had just been born.
“A few times I even helped him. She was a big part of my childhood.”
Vicky had been suffering with poor health for a few years and in 2014 when she underwent ground breaking surgery for a sinus problem.
Vanda said of the tattoo: “I want to a place called Mods and Rockers in Layton, It took around four hours to do and towards the end it was quite painful - but it was worth it.
“It shows Vicky as a baby - just as I remember her.”