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Our Zoo

June Mottershead

1 Reviews

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Autobiography: general, Prose: non-fiction, Nostalgia: general

A wonderfully nostalgic memoir detailing the fascinating lives of the working class family behind the phenomenally successful Chester Zoo.

When George Mottershead moved to the village of Upton-by-Chester in 1930 to realise his dream of opening a zoo without bars, his four-year-old daughter June had no idea how extraordinary her life would become. Soon her best friend was a chimpanzee called Mary, lion cubs and parrots were vying for her attention in the kitchen, and finding a bear tucked up in bed was no more unusual than talking to a tapir about granny's lemon curd. Pelican, penguin or polar bear - for June, they were simply family.

The early years were not without their obstacles for the Mottersheads. They were shunned by the local community, bankruptcy threatened and then World War Two began. Nightly bombing raids turned the dream into a nightmare and finding food for the animals became a constant challenge. Yet George's resilience, resourcefulness and tenacity eventually paid off. Now over 80 years since June first set foot in the echoing house, Chester Zoo has achieved worldwide renown.

Here, in her enthralling memoir, June Mottershead chronicles the heartbreak, the humour, the trials and triumphs, above all the characters, both human and animal, who shaped her childhood.

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Reader reviews (1)

  • I have been lucky enough to visit charity Chester Zoo today and the Mottershead family would be really proud of their legacy. It is the most popular paid for tourist attraction in the UK after the Tower of London and is ranked the 3rd best zoo in the World by Trip Advisor. This innovative zoo focuses very much today on the conservation of critically endangered species and is doing lots of work all over the world to protect these species in the wild too. It's hard to believe it had such humble beginning and that there was such opposition when in 1930 the Mottershead family was struggling to create and open their 'zoo without bars'. It's an inspiring story with the message that you should not give up on a dream if you really believe in it. I enjoyed reading about the Mottersheads and their extended family of animals told from the perspective of the youngest daughter June. I liked the fact you got to learn what happened after the TV drama series ended and it was a more detailed and accurate account of events. Therefore it's a great read if you did enjoy the drama series and wish there had been more.

    Abbie Reese

    Rated 5
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