CHESTER ZOO has seen huge changes through its 90 years.

There have been countless animal births, enclosure builds and improvements, and pioneering conservation work going on at the zoo, which turned 90 on Thursday, June 10.

And one member of staff who has plenty of changes at the zoo is Karen Lambert, head reptile keeper, who marks her 20-year anniversary at the animal attraction this year.

She said there was much for the zoo team to be proud about, having seen her team grow in numbers over the years and be witness to several outstanding accomplishments the zoo has made.

Karen explained: "I remember coming to Chester Zoo as a child and seeing the elephants, the hippos and polar bears, and it's amazing how much has changed. It has been a dream to be working here.

"When I started at the reptile team 20 years ago, there were only three of us, and our section has grown into a 13-strong team. Back then, we just had the reptile house and half of Dragons in Danger, but now we have so much more space, including at the Monsoon Forest.

"We have made fantastic breakthroughs in scientific research – we were the first zoo to breed a Komodo dragon without a male, where Flora laid fertile eggs.

"We were the first ones to breed tuataras outside their native New Zealand, and we have released several species, such as sand lizards, back into the wild."

Karen added there had been significant advancements made to improve the zoo, and the respective teams were still learning every day to make the experience better not just for visitors but for animals too.

She said: "We have learned so much in the past 20 years, from looking after animals in their enclosures and making sure, in the reptile house, the temperature is right for the animals and plants, so they can thrive.

"If we show these flagship animals and environments, hopefully that shows through and educates and inspires the people who come to visit.

"I have been lucky enough to do field programmes myself as part of the zoo and that has been amazing, caring for animals in the wild. The zoo is very conservation based.

"You never stop learning, as nature never stops running out of things to teach you. The younger staff coming in may also have new perspectives, and we encourage them to step forward and say 'have you tried this?'

"We have a couple of new staff on our team and they are bringing in new ideas, which is great."

Among the other achievements Karen can recall as part of her team's work was working with Jersey Zoo in 2010 to help a mountain chicken frog become a foster mother to a nest which had been abandoned by the previous mother, showing maternal care to tadpoles which she looked after as if they were her own.

Another big team effort was coming back from "the toughest time the zoo had faced" when the Monsoon Forest caught fire in 2018, heavily damaging the attraction. Two years later, the Monsoon Forest was reopened and Karen said the team was "really proud" of the rebuild effort.

Karen added she was hoping to work for the zoo for many years to come, as it was, and remains, "her dream job".