A young journalist from Haverstock School talks to Teague Stubbington from ZSL London Zoo
Q: What does your role involve as Curator of Mammals?
TS: My role is to look at what ZSL needs to do to provide the best care for all the mammals in the Zoo and to make sure the visitors can see and learn about them.
Q: What is a typical day like at the Zoo?
TS: I was at the Zoo at 7am this morning to help my team put some penguins, three tortoises and a lion through a CT scanner as part of the Zoo’s veterinary work. Bhanu the lion had been having earache, so we wanted to investigate what was causing it so we could treat it. In the afternoon I had some meetings. My work can be really varied.
Q: The tigers, Gaysha and Asim, live together in the same compound. Do they ever have disagreements?
TS: They are really affectionate and respectful to each other. So if there is conflict, they distance themselves. They can also read each other, so if one doesn’t feel like playing, the other will give them space.
Q: What kind of moments do you share with the tigers?
ST: I worked as a tiger zookeeper for 18 years, so a unique moment is when you get to better the lives of the animals you care for. When you change something in their care – lay a perfume trail for the lions, or make a new scratching post for the tigers, for example – and see the instant effect because it is something they enjoy, it is a powerful and emotional thing.
Q: Sometimes I look at my cat Brella and wonder whether, if she was ten times the size, I would still have the same connection with her? What do you think?
ST: One keeper I know spoke to his big cats a lot and so had a better degree of breeding success. This showed that there can be a stronger relationship between people and their big cats than we think.
We visited the Asiatic lions shortly afterwards, and I experienced a weird moment. The lioness Arya had her back resting on the glass enclosure. I said “Hello”, and she turned on her side and looked at me. She put her paw on the glass; I put my hand on the paw and I talked to her. Then people came up behind us and I explained that I had to go; she understood and put her paw down. It was a tender moment of connection.
The ZSL is very committed to the preservation of endangered species.
To donate to ZSL, go to www.donate.zsl.org/donations
Mordecai (Year 9)