38 years on and still raring to go

Michael Marshall with Gilligan the Gibbon.The only species he didn’t get to work with in his 38 years at the zoo were the big apes.

SINGAPORE- Growing up near the beach at Sembawang, Mr Michael Marshall, 60, had always been fascinated by the sea.

"I love marine animals like whales, dolphins and sea lions. I love watching them in their element," says the manager of Animal Presentations.

So when he learnt that the zoo was keen to bring in sea lions from California, Mr Marshall sent in his application.

He joined the zoo in 1975, first working with the keepers of other animals.

"The only species I didn't get to work with were the big apes."

Mr Marshall showed that he was a keen and fast learner and was later sent to Sri Lanka to train for three months on a Colombo Plan scholarship.

He subsequently specialised in marine mammals, including polar bears, penguins and, yes, sea lions.

It was only after two years that Mr Marshall got to work with his beloved sea lions when the exhibit finally opened.

An ecstatic Mr Marshall loved it so much that he stayed on - and recently celebrated his 38th year of service.

Animal attraction: The S'pore Zoo

Today, he oversees the animal presentation but he still misses working directly with the sea lions.

"The tendency is to go back to working with them again, but I tell myself I have moved on.

"I tell myself now that I'm dealing with the bigger picture, I will be able to serve my beloved animals better," he says.

Working with animals helps him understand people better.

"I am now more forgiving and have learnt to be more concerned for people," he says.

Like many of his colleagues, Mr Marshall says he is raring to go to work every day.

"If I wake one morning and I don't feel like going to work, then it's time to call it quits," he says.

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Animal attraction: The S'pore Zoo