Claire Firth, Animal Manager
What is your favourite animal/species to work with at the Zoo and why?
Really hard question to answer as I have so many favourites, but at a push I would have to say our three Asian short-clawed otters (Aonyx cinereus) - they make me smile every time I see them with their mischievous antics.
During my talks they will often yawn (rudely), pull indignant faces when they are not happy with their food choice for the day or even attack my boot as a demonstration of their disgust. On passing their enclosure though (when they are not asleep…) I often see them playing innocently with the tiniest stone, carrying grass in their mouths to pack out their beds, sunbathing happily or occasionally terrorising a poor toad that has hopped in to share their pond. Whatever mood they are in, they have to be at the top of my favourites list.
What conservation project do you currently support and why?
Proyecto titi is a charity based in Colombia helping to preserve the survival of the critically endangered Cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus). Having the opportunity to work with our two Cotton-tops, Stitch and Clyde, is a privilege as although they might be two of the smallest primates - they have biggest personalities. Helping to arrange our conservation days for Proyecto titi here at the Zoo, make me feel like I am playing a small part in securing a future for this species in the wild.
If you could bring one species back from extinction, what would it be and why?
I would bring back the Woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis). Rhinoceros are just the coolest species on the planet as far as I am concerned. I mean they are just grey unicorns right? What isn’t there to like and if they were once again common across Scotland, well let’s just say I wouldn’t be living in London anymore!
What animal at the Zoo would you most say has a personality most similar to yours and why?
Wiggle our Kune kune pig (Sus scrofa domesticus). She hates mornings just as much as me and cannot wait to go back to bed after her breakfast.
What is the smelliest job at the Zoo and why?
There are many… but the poo from the tallest and fastest, flightless bird in Australia, the Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) wins that prize from me. Poo picking in the emu enclosure is my least favourite job.
Can you show us the funniest photo on your phone of one of the animal’s you work with at the Zoo?