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www.networkshe.com31Animal MAGICChristine Bailey and Lily Martin bring out the wild side of cover girl Radha PatelThe Rainforest Retreat at Chester Zoo was the perfect back drop for the Network She magazine front cover photo shoot Cover girl Radha Patel Makeup by Mistymoo face and body art specialistsPhotography by Eifion Williams of WelshotVenue, Rainforest Retreat at Chester Zoo

32Network She I Autumn/Winter 2012There are few top chefs that use frozen bloodworm listed amongst their winning ingredients but Andrea Fidgett is one of them.Move over Nigella, Jamie Oliver and the Roux brothers because Andrea not only has recipes with a difference but is the only food expert of her calibre in the UK and has produced a recipe book that is used globally as a reference point .Her secret?. Andrea is Chester Zoo's nutritionist and has produced the only recipe book that catalogues the best meals to feed all manner of wild animals from fish to elephants.She has designed diets for over 400 different species and is continually adding to it as research continues to find the most nutritious meals to feed animals from the wild and now in captivity.When she was seven Andrea was given an encyclopaedia which sparked her interest in animals. From there she gained a degree in zoology at Glasgow and an opportunity arose to work at Gerald Durrell's zoo in Jersey where she became interested in the nutritional side.Whilst there she was assigned a project to look at animal behaviour and the link with their eating habits."It was really a turning point for me. I was surprised at how little research had been done into the nutritional, side," said Andrea who also got to meet Durrell. "He was very inspirational. He always made an effort to speak to the staff whether it was about what they were working with or an anecdote," she recalled.Her initial project involved studying the eating habits of the St Lucia parrot who were not thriving and breeding as well as hoped in captivity. A number of the parrots were suffering from gout which is often linked to an excess of protein.To help in her research Andrea sought the help of a leading nutritionist in America who ended up being a major inspiration and influence on Andrea's career. "She really opened my mind and made me realise how poorly nutrition was studied. She became my mentor."Andrea's starting point was to look at what the parrots were being given to eat and discovered they were being offered about 50 types of food which was about five times what they needed. "There was a massive amount of choice but too much of it. They were being given the food that we had available but not the food that would be available to them in the wild," explained Andrea.So she started a painstaking process of measuring foods, weighing them and documenting what was being eaten. Gradually she whittled down the choice and amount of food. After a year her work was rewarded when the parrots bred and the incidents of gout stopped."It is a great feeling and I can still remember all the detail 20 years on. Even now when you are successful it is a terrific feeling.There had been a succession of deaths and during my three years there were no more." said Andrea, "it is an amazing feeling."Spurred on and encouraged be her mentor she did a Masters in nutrition before going back to Jersey to study lemurs.A four year stint studying for a PhD followed and Andrea's mentor came over to visit and encouraged Andrea to push for the creation of a job as one of the first animal nutritionists in Britain."When she came over from the USA it was at a time when nutrition was gaining prominence in animal husbandry," recalled Andrea.WILD about foodAndrea Fidgett is a foodie with a difference. Andrea Williams finds out why.They were being given the food that we had available but not the food that would just be available to them in the wild