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www.networkshe.com35she never ceases to be amazed at children's concepts of the animal world.In addition there is the Zoo itself which Sue can use as her extended classroom. However there are plans to build a bigger Education and Training Centre at the Welsh Mountain Zoo which is now a registered charity to cope with the increasing number of visits.Sue has a wealth of animal stories to rival David Attenborough. Her house is a small Zoo in itself with tarantulas, cockroaches, frogs, lizards, turtles and snakes along with the more traditional animals like gerbils and mice. In fact when I questioned her she was hard pushed to remember exactly how many animals she does have at home (stick insects for example can have hundreds of babies).On the plus side her sons found they could have any sort of pet they wanted so long as they looked after them properly. Sue started them off with stick insects saying if you can look after a stick insect the principles are the same for looking after any other animal. Once when one of the boys went to school he felt something in his shoe. When he took it off to empty it, out crawled a giant hissing cockroach which resulted in a worried call from his teacher. Not to mention the time that the iguana escaped and ended up on the roof but that's another story..on her hand which I did and then incredibly she asked me if I would put it on her head! She was really brave because when she first arrived she couldn't even bear to look at a picture of a spider." said Sue.Schools come from far and wide to the Education Centre at the Zoo and for many children it is the first time they have seen some animals close up. "I remember one child who saw the chinchilla and asked if it was an elephant! He mistook it because it was grey with big ears which he associated with an elephant. He had no idea how big an elephant was because he'd only ever seen one on television," explained Sue who added that Yet her mother's fears did not deter but encouraged Sue, as part of her work at the zoo, helping some people overcome their animal phobias.One visit to Sue's office makes you realise how well equipped she is to do this. Strip lighting is replaced by a large stuffed albatross suspended from the ceiling. While the usual filing cabinets have made way for a myriad of cages which house everything from tarantulas and snakes to rats and other small rodents. Not a place for the faint hearted but ideal resources for those trying to overcome their fears.Snakes and spiders top the list. Sue usually begins by getting people to look at a picture of the animal before gradually introducing the real thing or more gradually such as touching a shed snake skin."One lady had a fear of spiders so I got her first to look at a tarantula skin. When she felt comfortable with that I showed her the real thing. She then asked if I would put it and other ANIMALSOne child saw the chinchilla and asked if it was an elephant

36Network She I Autumn/Winter 2012The phrase bitten by the love bug certainly took on a new depth of meaning to me after Karen Lambert told me about how she met her husband.Forget hearts and roses as a backdrop and think snakes and spiders because these are the unlikely cupids that brought Karen and her new husband Jeff together.Karen is a lead herpetology keeper at Chester Zoo and Jeff is her equivalent at London Zoo. They met when he came as an intern to Chester for a year and was assigned to work with Karen. Their shared interest has played its part even when it comes to buying each other gifts."He'll say I'd like such and such a beetle so I say that's ok and buy him that for a present." said Karen who'll then source it through a specialist group.And it wasn't the usual beach holiday for the newly weds following their marriage in July. They flew to Tahiti but not for a romantic beach holiday but to help a conservationist to build reserves for a rare snail. In fact Karen and her husband are both two of the very few people in the world working to save the Partula snail.As a herpetology keeper Karen is responsible for everything from Komodo dragons to snakes and all manner of other creepy crawlies while at the same time researching and helping protect the Partula snail which is fast becoming extinct. Karen has hundreds of them in clinical looking glass boxes in a specially air conditioned room with an 80 per cent humidity as she studies them in a bid to get them breeding."Our main goal is to get them to breed in captivity and then put them back into the wild." said Karen which is what she will be helping them to do on her honeymoon."Jeff and I are discussing the wedding but our hot topic of conversation at the moment is the snails because that's where we are going next." said Karen.Originally from the Society Islands in French Polynesia there were 72 species but over 50 of those species are now extinct."There are about 19 species in captivity from the Society Islands but only about 11 exist in the wild," explained Karen. Five of those species they now have at Chester Zoo. The precious cargo are kept in a specially air controlled room with the right temperature and humidity.BeetlemaniaCreepy crawlies are an unlikely setting for love but Andrea Williams finds out how these led to romance for Karen Lambert and a mission to save an endangered species