90-year-old Joan Murrell enjoyed the ‘mother’ of all birthday celebrations this week when she visited Drusillas Park in Alfriston to feed the lemurs.
Joan is mum to Christine Smith, who owns the award-winning zoo in East Sussex and it was a case of ‘keeping’ it in the family when choosing the perfect place to celebrate her landmark birthday.
It was a family get-together with a twist as Joan was joined by not only her daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren but also the 14 friendly residents of Lemurland as she undertook the zoo’s Close Encounter scheme. This one-to-one experience allows a member of the public to work alongside a keeper, feeding some of the zoo’s most popular animals including the penguins meerkats and red pandas.
The lemurs were delighted with the outcome as Joan served up a luscious lunch of one of their favourite foods – garden peas! The hungry tribe lapped up the legumes and a hap-pea time was had by all.
Joan commented, “It was a fantastic experience and great to get so close to the animals. They were a really friendly bunch and seemed to love the peas. I thoroughly enjoyed the day.”
The birthday girl was not alone in entering her ninth decade; Drusilllas Park also celebrated its 90th year in 2015 as did The Queen in April. It therefore seemed only fitting that Joan received the royal treatment on her special day.