Posted: Tue 2nd Jul 2019

Mammoth year for Chester Zoo elephant keeper Katie

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Jul 2nd, 2019


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An elephant keeper is completing a series of challenges in a bid to raise funds for research into the deadly elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus (EEHV) which has struck several of Chester Zoo’s much-loved calves.

Two calves died at the zoo last year after falling ill with EEHV, a deadly virus threatening Asian elephants globally.

Katie Morrison decided to dedicate 2019 to fundraising and the zoo’s Never Forget campaign which aims to raise money to help find a vaccine for EEHV.

She is completing one challenge every month, including a half Ironman, a month of going vegan, learning to ballroom dance, and cycling around the entire Welsh coast!

Katie has been an elephant keeper for seven years, she was an intern at Chester Zoo originally then worked at Noah’s Ark and Twycross Zoo before coming back to Chester Zoo two years ago.

“As an elephant keeper at Chester Zoo EEHV is never far from my thoughts.  Chester zoo has lost elephant calves to this deadly virus.

Lots is still unknown about EEHV and how to treat it, so more research is vitally important.” Katie said. 

She completed Rough Runner Manchester in June, it merges distance running with obstacles inspired by game shows such as Takeshi’s Castle, Wipeout, Gladiator, Ninja Warrior and more.

July’s challenge will see Katie take on the Breca Gower Swimrun in Swansea, a gruelling 37km cross country run interspersed with eight swims, totalling 5km.

Katie will then ride 100 miles from London to Surrey in August before competing in a half Ironman triathlon in Weymouth the following month where she will swim 1.2-mile followed by a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run.

“I think the half Ironman is the challenge I‘m most looking forward to, but also the one I’m most nervous about.

I’ve wanted to do it for a while so it’ll be great to be able to tick it off the list.” Katie said.

It’s not the 37km runs or 100-mile bike rides that worry Katie the most, in November she takes on a dancing challenge which she says is the scariest challenge of them all.

She said: “They’re all supposed to push me out of my comfort zone! But I’m a bit scared about the dancing challenge.

I haven’t been to a dance class since I was little, and I’ve never done ballroom dancing.

It’s more difficult to train for than the challenge because it’s not just a question of strength or endurance.

And I’ll be doing it in front of people I know, so I know that nearer the time I’ll be having nightmares about falling on my face!”

[First ever attempt at crochet]

Katie’s challenge in February was to crochet an elephant, she had never even knitted before!

“It’s safe to say I am definitely not a natural. Crochet is difficult.

And here’s me thinking the Ironman is going to be my hardest challenge! Want to help?

Katie said: “Whether your a keen crocheter already or a complete novice like me I would love for you to get involved. Follow the pattern (link here), make the elephant and send it to the zoo.

Simple right!

The more elephants we make, the more keyrings we will have to sell and the more funding we can generate.”

If you would like to contribute send your crochet elephants to the following address: Fundraising Team, Chester Zoo, Cedar House, Caughall Road, Upton, Chester, CH2 1LH

Follow Katie’s adventures via her blog https://mymammothyear.home.blog 

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