Alfriston zoo manager celebrates 30 years at Drusillas

Zoo manager Sue Woodgate from Drusillas Park
Zoo manager Sue Woodgate from Drusillas Park
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A zoo manager is celebrating 30 years working at Drusillas Park in Alfriston.

Sue Woodgate started as a junior keeper aged just 16 and three decades later she is running the ten-acre wildlife park.

Sue started at Drusillas after a serious riding accident which dashed her dreams of a career with horses.

Sue said: “We had fewer animals but there were just three of us to look after them - the Curator, the Head Keeper and myself. Most of my day consisted of mucking out.

“By comparison, today we have ten zoo keepers working at any one time.”

Sue worked her way up through the ranks and when the zoo changed hands in 1997 the new owners offered her the role of Zoo Curator. The title changed to Zoo and Education Manager in 2004, overseeing all aspects of animal welfare, conservation, and species management.

Sue said: “Thirty years seems a very long time and a lot of the keepers take great delight in reminding me that they weren’t even born when I began! One question I regularly get asked is are there any animals still here that were here when I started and it may surprise you to know that there are; some of our flamingos arrived at Drusillas around the same time as I did. Flamingos are very long lived birds and can live for over 50 years! Who knows, at this rate I could even celebrate a golden anniversary with them at Drusillas!”

Sue added: “I still really enjoy the diversity of my role.”

Sue is also a dedicated mum-of-two and looks after sons Jack and Toby.