Zookeeper on why she ditched wolves for the loving embrace of a pet dog
- Credit: Stacey Foreman/ Sarah Lucy Brown
A zookeeper has revealed why she switched lions, tigers and cheetahs for the slightly less exotic pooch.
Stacey Foreman, a former keeper of carnivores, has left her wild life behind and started her own dog-walking business in Mulbarton — on the outskirts of Norwich.
While she loved her zookeeping days at Longleat Safari and Adventure Park in Wiltshire, followed by Africa Alive and then Banham Zoo, the Carlton Colville-born animal behaviour expert says you categorically "got more back" from dogs than you do big, angry cats.
After working as a zookeeper for 10 years, lockdown inspired Ms Foreman to do something new and forge her own path.
Her business, "Stacey Leads the Way", launched in September this year.
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Ms Foreman said she already knew how "rewarding" dog-walking was going to be and encouraged anyone looking for a change in life to stick to their gut, even though it might seem scary at first.
She explained: "I saw everyone else doing their own thing and trying something different, and I was really jealous of that.
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"I loved zookeeping but it was so intense.
"I mainly worked with carnivores in my various jobs, like lions, tigers, cheetahs, wolves, hunting dogs and sea lions.
"But they were dangerous animals. You couldn't pet them or make a fuss of them. They spent most of their time being angry.
"I'd feed them and clean them and did a bit of training with regards to the sea lions.
"It wasn't like the bond you could form with a dog though. The idea is to keep the carnivores as wild as possible.
"The zoo animals would recognise you and recognise your voice. But they wouldn't be happy to see you or anything.
"They weren't the types of animal you could play with."
And according to the 32-year-old, it's not just her newfound kinship with canines making her smile each morning — it's also the slower pace of life.
She added: "It's weird, but a lot of my other friends who were previously zookeepers have also gone into dog walking.
"It's really relaxing, and far less intense than working with wild animals."
To use Ms Foreman's services, check out her Facebook page.