Senior Bird Keeper Tom Tooley is currently 6,000 miles away on the island of Mauritius. But if you think he’s dodged the English winter to relax on a tropical island, think again.
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He’s spending time with local conservationists to help bolster the population of this bird, classed as an Endangered Species. That means hand rearing and that means long days: “The first feed is at 6.00am, then every 3 hours ‘til 6.00 in the evening, or even 9.00. In between, you’re making fresh feeds and cleaning up after the messy chicks!”
Tom’s an expert on pigeons and hand-rearing, and on previous visits has trained local staff. He’s very happy to share the experience he has gained working at Paignton Zoo.
“Bringing a chick through is satisfying; it’s rewarding. It’s not easy; you need to be patient, precise and very well organised. You keep records, you weigh them every day. It’s a responsibility; you have to be prepared to put in the hours , early starts, late finishes.”
Tom has been seconded to work with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, the only non-governmental organization in Mauritius exclusively concerned with the conservation and preservation of the nation's endangered plant and animal species. Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is a registered charity.
For more information go to www.paigntonzoo.org.uk or ring 01803 697500.