Meet the team: Senior Keeper of Birds, Tom Tooley
Published: Aug 1, 2018Get to know our Paignton Zoo team...
As Senior Keeper of Birds, Tom is dedicated and devoted to his work and the birds he looks after here at Paignton Zoo.
Tom is responsible for the hand raising of chicks and ducklings, a number of aviaries in front of our Avian Breeding Centre (the ABC), a kiwi and some new arrivals - three pink pigeons.
With a background of keeping pigeons privately and working on farms, Tom joined the team 20 years ago and told us: “I always knew that I wanted to work with animals but I didn’t know how to get into it, so I volunteered for a year at Paignton Zoo.”
Tom soon became and employee and undertook a Zoo Animal Management course though the Zoo.
During the breeding season, a typical day for Tom starts at 7:00am to feed any chicks that are being hand reared, followed by food preparation (there’re an awful lot of vegetables to be cut up) and cleaning enclosures. Chick feeding is required throughout the day at regular intervals – sometimes it’s every hour.
“My favourite part of the job is successfully raising the chicks, seeing them go from egg to adult” Tom explains.
“Zoos are really important because I have learnt skills here that I can use to help the rarest birds that need our support. I can put those skills into practice in the wild and make a real difference.”
So passionate about conservation, Tom has spent his holiday leave for the last few years in Mauritius, volunteering for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation on their pink pigeon project.
This year, Paignton Zoo will be supporting Tom with his work to help save this Endangered species by funding him while he is working on the project and The Whitley Wildlife Conservation, the charity which runs Paignton Zoo, is funding his air fare.
Paignton Zoo is currently home to three pink pigeons, which will be on show in the Cottage Aviary once the refurbishment project has finished later this year.