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www.networkshe.com33need for a balanced diet. The detail includes quantity right down to the method of how to prepare the food and serve and also includes pictures.Despite studying many animals Andrea still has one ambition she would like to fulfil. "I would love to go and study the giant tortoise in the Galapagos islands."Not only would this be a treat for her but for them going on her past recipe successes a cordon bleu experience for the tortoises."The difficult thing is how do you tell a giraffe is getting taller because it's head can be at any angle," she explained. " To overcome this we started to measure the giraffe from its feet to its shoulder rather than up to its neck and sure enough over a period of time they gained weight at a sensible rate and they grew taller."Good communication and sharing knowledge is a vital part of Andrea's job as she needs to communicate well with the keepers. In addition it is the communication with all the other animal specialists around the world which has built up into a valuable network. Andrea's work has also developed into helping create certain foods to be produced at a factory level for animals. She has helped to tailor make or customise food pellets through her research into nutrition.Her expertise is called upon from zoos around the globe. "I probably spend about a third of my time travelling around the world each year and doing lectures," said Andrea.But perhaps what is most in demand is in her animal recipe book which is a fascinating insight into what the animals Her mentor helped lobby for the creation of a post in the UK and Chester was the zoo that took up the gauntlet and Andrea was given the post as nutritionist. That was 10 years ago and now her expertise is called upon throughout the world.Naturally, with any new type of position, there was some suspicion as to its value amongst some keepers and general uncertainty about its value and benefits, "a lot of people thought I was just a theorist coming in but most of my work and training has been based on the practical side.It was a huge learning curve for me and there was pressure because it was the first position of its kind I had to prove myself."Proving her worth came when Andrea got the chance to work with the giraffes at Chester and their keepers. It was a tall order in more ways than one because her job as a nutritionist was to help the giraffes grow taller."My starting point is not necessarily what's wrong but how could things be improved," said Andrea. Chester had three healthy males and two females, a third male arrived of a similar age and the keepers noticed the new giraffe was twice the size of the two currently at Chester."Our two were smaller but we wanted them to get taller," explained Andrea.A process of examining their food and looking at their social habits began with Andrea working in close collaboration with the giraffe keepers. The keepers are always the most important link because they are the ones who have the most insight into the animals they are looking after because they are with them each day. In addition to their food intake studying their social habits revealed that the two pregnant females were dominating the younger males and getting the lion's share from the food troughs."So the most obvious thing was to split them up and feed the males separate from the females," said Andrea.Weekly weigh-ins charted the success but the zoo also had to measure how tall the giraffes were to get an accurate picture of improvement.Animal food billHow much do we pay for crickets?For a 1,000 adult crickets we pay £16. We buy 2,000 adults a week. However, we breed 50,000 - 70,000 a week ourselves in our self-sustaining colony.How much do we pay for locusts? They cost 6-8p each and we buy 2,000 per week. How much do we pay for staple veg like potatoes and carrots? Every Monday, we send a three tonne truck to leading supermarket chains and collect carrots/potatoes. We pay a token payment but really it is pretty much free.What's our most expensive pellet? The most expensive pellet is for the leaf-eater primate at £25 for 12 and a half kilos. The monkeys have it.How much do we spend on nuts?We spend £5,500 a year on nuts - brazils/almonds are a premium buy!FACTFILEAndrea Fidgett

34Network She I Autumn/Winter 2012They say never work with animals or children yet Sue Coleman does both. "I wouldn't be without either. I've always been interested in the natural world and I love being able to teach children about animals and watch their fascination when they see them. It never ceases to amaze me." she said.She can pinpoint the moment in her life that her passion for the living world was sparked."I was only about three or four years old and I remember looking into a fish tank and that was it. I was fascinated and ever since then I have been interested in all living things.""I felt very privileged to be able to study animals at such close quarters." said Sue. It also gave her the opportunity to bring an eclectic procession of waifs and strays home for 24 hour care. moved to New Jersey for three years before returning to North Wales where Sue had her first taste of zoo life when she worked as a volunteer at the age of 13. Then at 18 her family moved to South Africa where she went to university and gained her degree in biochemistry before returning home, aged 24, to work as a biochemist at Liverpool University. She then came back over the border to Wales to work at Robertson's Research where she met her husband Steve. They were transferred to Houston Texas with their work for five years and then returned once again to Wales where they started a family. Sue gave up working to look after their two boys Timothy and David but when they were old enough to go to school she went full circle by returning to the Welsh Mountain Zoo as a volunteer and then into the job there as Education Officer. Her passion was not the easiest thing to cope with for her mother who had a pathological fear of anything that flies.As a child Sue recalls her mother running along the road screaming when a jackdaw tried to land on her head. Her phobia was not helped when Sue's father came home from work one day with a bat which he had rescued from an old building where he had been working. "We tried not to let my mother know because she had a phobia about bats and all went well until later in the evening we heard terrible screaming coming from upstairs. We rushed upstairs and there was my mother looking at the bat hanging from the curtains in her bedroom. We didn't realise the bat had been in hibernation and had woken up when we brought it into the house." said Sue.My FAMILY and Andrea Williams finds out how one woman has managed to make a harmonious mix working with animals and children We had a baby crocodile with rickets in the bath"I was only about three or four years old and I remember looking into a fish tank and that was it. I was fascinated and ever since then I have been interested in all living things.""We had a baby crocodile with rickets in the bath once and an owl in the front room and my brother had a pet boa constrictor," recalls Sue. In fact there are few animals that you can mention, which I did, that Sue had not had at some stage. Sue was also able to see more exotic animals during periods of her life when she lived abroad. When she was four her family