TRIBUTES have been paid to a long serving Dudley Zoo employee who has retired after four decades of service.

Dr David Beeson, who is one of the zoo's longest serving members of staff, joined the attraction in June 1978 when he was tasked with setting up a zoo education service.

He then went on to work as an educator, registrar, research officer, health and safety co-ordinator and author after becoming a permament zoo employee in 1983.

Dr Beeson was also instrumental in launching the careers of a generation of zookeepers through his work as Midlands Regional Co-ordinator for the Diploma in Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA) – the industry standard qualification.

Derek Grove, zoo director, said: “David’s colleagues and friends are well aware that this has not just been a job for him, but part of his life and there’s not many that can match his skill set and vast zoological knowledge.

“The Zoo community can reflect with great satisfaction on a contribution that leaves an undeniable legacy and he will be a hard act to follow.”

Dr Beeson retired on Tuesday (June 30) and staff hope to celebrate together when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.