A MARRIED couple from Newport turned zoo-keepers for the day when they joined staff at Dudley Zoological Gardens.

Emily and Ian Bristow, of Park End, worked with Madagascan lemurs and Brazilian tapirs at the award-winning West Midlands tourist attraction as part of the 40-acre site’s Keeper for a Day experience. Throughout the session they help staff with their daily duties including feeding, cleaning and caring for the collection, many of which are endangered species.

Emily Bristow, 31, said: “I think it's safe to say it was the best day I’ve had, second only to my wedding. Getting licked by a tapir, having a penguin nip my jeans, experiencing a lemur jumping on my face were spectacular. "The hospitality shown, the passion of the keepers and the animals themselves all made for a most incredible experience.”

The zoo has been offering the chance to be a keeper for a number of years. The day-long experience costs £190 for two people, and £75 for a child. The zoo is home to unique animals which include Bornean Orangutans, Rothshild giraffes, Sumatran tigers, Asiatic lions, Humboldt penguins and red pandas.

Peter Suddock, DZG Chief Executive, said: “It’s a unique opportunity to get close to some of the rarest animals on the planet and work alongside our keepers with a wide range of exotic and endangered species most folk see only on their TV screens, and funds raised through the scheme support exciting conservation and animal projects at DZG. It also offers a brilliant photo opportunity for the family album and makes a great gift for all occasions.”