Top zookeeper calls time on 44-year career

Peter Dillingham with his retirement cake
Peter Dillingham with his retirement cake
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One of Blackpool Zoo’s longest serving animal experts retires today after 44 years of dedication to all creatures great and small.

Animal manager, Peter Dillingham, joined the zoo when he was just 32 years old after embarking on his dream career on his 16th birthday.

He started on the bird section of Chessington Zoo on 14th May 1973 and will retire at the very top of his profession.

Peter, who has worked with an array of species from polar bears to giant pandas, said: “I knew I wanted to be a zoo keeper from a very young age and loved nothing more than to spend all my free time playing with my Britain’s zoo animal collection.

“After leaving school at 15 I spoke to the manager at Chessington Zoo and he said I would have to wait until I was 16 to join, which I patiently did!

“Since then I have had the honour of working with some of the most endangered species, and best keepers, in the world.”

Peter moved into the keeper quarters at Blackpool Zoo with his young family in 1989 before making the town his permanent home three years later.

He worked on every section across the 32-acre site, in East Park Drive, making his way up the career ladder to section head before being appointed as animal manager in 2007.

In addition he was chairman of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (BIAZA) Mammal Working Group for over 12 years and vice-chair of the European Association of Zoos & Aquaria’s (EAZA) Monotreme & Marsupial Tax on Advisory Group for 10 years.