Jess Chittenden

Jess Chittenden, Zookeeper

Which is your favourite animal to work with at the zoo and why?

The Coatis! They have incredibly cute faces and as long as you’ve got food they’ll always come over to say hello (unless it’s snowing). Washing the windows is always fun as they try to run away with the sponge or steal the bubbles out of the bucket. Treacle the coati especially enjoys jumping on my shoulders and sticking her nose in my hair or ear!

What conservation project do you currently support and why?

The Silent Forest Campaign – This project aims to protect the Asian song birds that are at risk of extinction mainly due to the pet trade. As we have a pair of beautiful Bali Starlings in our zoo and I have a particular love for birds this is a project that I have a strong interest in supporting.

If you could bring one species back from extinction, what would it be and why?

Giant Penguin (kumimanu : which means monster bird in Maori). Penguins are one of my favourite animals and these guys were over 1.5 metres tall, what’s not to love!

Which animal at the zoo would you say has a personality most similar to yours and why?

Barry and Becky our African Grey parrots! They are both very loud and very chatty and always like to know what is going on. Becky is also an excellent dancer and I like to think I’m pretty good too!

What is the smelliest job at the zoo?

Cleaning the otter bedroom! Clearly eating nothing but fish has a particularly unique effect on the digestive system.

Can you show us the funniest photo on your phone of one of the animals you work with at the zoo?