BEING bitten by a Black Widow Spider, threatened by a two-metre tall kangaroo, wounded by a cassowary and handling bluebottles for a TV drama were all in a day’s work for Geoff Read.

The retired Marwell stalwart has just released a book called Earwigs to Rhinos - A Zookeeper’s Story.

As a young boy living in austere, post-war London, Geoff Read had little opportunity to enjoy his passion: a fascination for insects.

But he followed his dream which took him from collecting earwigs in an old teapot to working closely with some of the most endangered species on earth, including rhinos, in two of the most famous zoos in Britain.

Lockdown presented Geoff with the opportunity to record his fascinating life-story. He brings the reader the joys and sorrows, the hilarious and the very unexpected and takes us with him as he moves from inexperienced under-age beginner to Head Keeper over a period of fifty years.

In a book that describes the arduous, sometimes heart-breaking, but always rewarding work that continues through every season, Geoff takes readers behind the scenes of life at London Zoo during the sixties to Marwell, which opened in 1972.

Geoff, now living in Kings Worthy, also describes his home life and how working with animals is not something left behind at the end of the day but which filled his home and family life with excitement, drama and fun.

This book, which will appeal to readers of all ages, is available through most retailers or from the author himself: Geoff will be doing a book signing from 2pm til 6pm at Marwell Resort Hotel on August 13.