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NPDC heroes - Looking after our furry friends

Local News Our Work
PUBLISHED: 20 APR 2020

Our Brooklands Zoo and animal welfare teams have been hard at work during lockdown looking after our very important furry friends during this period of national emergency.

Like other NPDC workers who have been keeping core services running – water, rubbish, roads – the zoo keepers and animal control officers are classed as essential workers.

The zoo has brought in split shifts to minimise staff to staff contact while one animal control officer is rostered on each day to care for dogs at the Rifle Range Road dog pound or deal with calls.

NPDC Animal Control Coordinator Karl Osten says his team has been looking after 27 dogs at the pound including a new mum with her seven-week-old puppies and they also impounded a wandering sheep last week.

“Our focus is looking after the dogs at the pound but we are here to help as well if the police, for example, needed assistance,” says Karl. “We’re still trying to reunite dogs with their owners and we’ll respond to any dog attack issues.”

He has also offered advice to dog owners during the lockdown. “Dogs are getting a lot of walks which is great but we’d strongly urge everyone to keep dogs on a leash or under command which helps with physical distancing and keeps them in your bubble. Also try to keep to your normal walking routine that your dog is familiar with.”

NPDC Zoo head keeper Louise Mckenna says the only difference is they are not holding any keeper talks and while the animals’ behaviour hasn’t changed, the animals have noticed how quiet it is without the 113,000 visitors who enjoy the free zoo each year.

“Their behaviour hasn’t changed but they’ve probably noticed how quiet it’s been for the last few weeks. The keepers’ routines have changed a little with no visitors around - we’ve been doing things in a different order most days - and the animals have enjoyed that change to the daily routine as much as we have while receiving the same high level of care,” says Louise.

A special thanks to the vet team, fresh food suppliers, waste removal contractors and cleaners for their support during the lockdown.

NPDC’s Brooklands Zoo is home to about 80 animals and has been operating since 1965.

Our animal welfare team manages 3,500 cases a year including reuniting owners with their lost dogs and dealing with wandering stock.