Our Zoo, Hardback Book
4.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)

Description

When George Mottershead moved to the village of Upton-by-Chester in 1930 to realise his dream of opening a zoo without bars, his four-year-old daughter June had no idea how extraordinary her life would become.

Soon her best friend was a chimpanzee called Mary, lion cubs and parrots were vying for her attention in the kitchen, and finding a bear tucked up in bed was no more unusual than talking to a tapir about granny's lemon curd.

Pelican, penguin or polar bear - for June, they were simply family. The early years were not without their obstacles for the Mottersheads.

They were shunned by the local community, bankruptcy threatened and then World War Two began.

Nightly bombing raids turned the dream into a nightmare and finding food for the animals became a constant challenge.

Yet George's resilience, resourcefulness and tenacity eventually paid off. Now over 80 years since June first set foot in the echoing house, Chester Zoo has achieved worldwide renown. Here, in her enthralling memoir, June Mottershead chronicles the heartbreak, the humour, the trials and triumphs, above all the characters, both human and animal, who shaped her childhood.

Information

  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Publishing Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9781472226358

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Reviews

Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by
4

I was midway through the TV series when I found out this existed, and I bought it on the spot. I actually read most of this during a 24-hour readathon, because it was such an easy read, so charming and interesting and generally lovely to immerse myself in. It's different to the BBC drama - that portion of the story is done within a couple of chapters, and the book moves on to the development of Chester Zoo from a tiny idyll to the world-famous force it is today - but the tone is just right, enthusiastic and entertaining, sharing stories from a magical childhood yet not shying away from the inevitable sadness that comes with working with animals, wild or otherwise. June's voice is so warm and it's rather nice that now, in her eighties, her family's dream and decades of hard work are finally being recognised by a wider audience.

Review by
4.5

Publication date: 9th October 2014Publisher: HeadlineISBN: 9781472226358Source: Publisher, via bobookbridgr/netgalleyMarks: 4½/5Synopsis:A wonderfully nostalgic memoir detailing the fascinating lives of the working class family behind the phenomenally successful Chester Zoo.When George Mottershead moved to the village of Upton-by-Chester in 1930 to realise his dream of opening a zoo without bars, his four-year-old daughter June had no idea how extraordinary her life would become. Soon her best friend was a chimpanzee called Mary, lion cubs and parrots were vying for her attention in the kitchen, and finding a bear tucked up in bed was no more unusual than talking to a tapir about granny's lemon curd. Pelican, penguin or polar bear - for June, they were simply family.The early years were not without their obstacles for the Mottersheads. They were shunned by the local community, bankruptcy threatened and then World War Two began. Nightly bombing raids turned the dream into a nightmare and finding food for the animals became a constant challenge. Yet George's resilience, resourcefulness and tenacity eventually paid off. Now over 80 years since June first set foot in the echoing house, Chester Zoo has achieved worldwide renown.Here, in her enthralling memoir, June Mottershead chronicles the heartbreak, the humour, the trials and triumphs, above all the characters, both human and animal, who shaped her childhood.My review:I was so looking forward to reading this account of how Chester Zoo began, as an animal lover, I'd been enthralled by the TV series of the same name. The book is a little different to the series, which was adapted for TV audiences, but this original account by the youngest Mottershead is equally enchanting.This memoir focuses very much on the animals and how the grounds of Oakfield were turned into the first zoo without bars, which I found fascinating. The attention to detail is fantastic, the recount captivating.My only criticism is that I didn't really like so much focus on the war details, which I'm afraid I found a little boring. Obviously the war had a great impact on the zoo so I totally understand it's inclusion; I just prefer reading about the animals.

Review by
5

This was a charming book about life at Chester Zoo from the very beginning, through World War II and slightly after. June Mottershead, daughter of the founder of the zoo, takes us on a short journey of her past - which there seemed to never have been a dull moment.After having seen the BBC series I wanted to read the book. I can honestly say I'm glad I did.This book was a light and easy read full of humour and sad moments in abundance. Although there was quite a few sad moments the mood was quickly changed by one of June's short anecdotes. The best one for me was when one of the bears went missing and it was found to have strolled into the house.I found the book to have been a pleasurable and enjoyable read. It had almost a conversational tone to it, as opposed to talk at you or down to you. As it was a light read it was easy to get wrapped up into the story and just keep turning the pages. The pictures throughout the book added that little extra touch to it. You got to see the people and the animals that June was talking about and it made you feel a bit closer to the story.

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