Maintaining Drusillas Park – the small zoo with big priorities

Customer Voices
With this job you’re constantly learning.  Even after 35 years I’m attending college courses to keep up to date with training and technologies.

Maintenance is commonly considered as a job for production lines and heavy machinery, but it may surprise you to know it’s vital even in the places you least expect.

Colin Hartley is one such engineer who doesn’t go to work in a typical industrial environment, instead he actually has some rather interesting colleagues in his workplace.

While they might not say a lot, they’re always making him laugh, and constantly taking an interest in what he’s doing – and some of them even enjoy getting up close and personal!

Colin works as an estate electrician at Drusillas Park, a small zoo with family attractions which has been an RS customer for eight years – and his maintenance job is brought to life by the incredible animals he gets to share his days with.

With thousands of visitors, hundreds of animals, and tens of rides to look after, time is crucial and Colin has a very important job to help the entire park run smoothly.

Not your average maintenance job

Colin, an electrical engineer with over 35 years’ experience, has worked at the park for almost three years. He buys vital products from RS to ensure efficient running of the rides, animal enclosures and other areas of the park. His extensive shopping list sees him source everything from push buttons and LEDs to tools, switches and heaters.

He, along with other members of the maintenance team, maintains the electrics for the entire park, from the more practical applications such as security cameras and lighting, to the public-facing displays and water features that make Drusillas Park a fun and exciting place to visit.

While he works to a planned schedule of maintenance, the majority of his day is spent on reactive tasks. Working with animals and the public means he needs to react quickly when things aren’t working as they should. And that’s where Colin chooses RS for help: “With RS, we really like that we can order what we need and get it the next day, which is really important for us as we have the animals to think about.”

But on top of the pressures he faces to keep everything at the park running efficiently, the furry, four-legged and feverish creatures Colin spends his days with at the park help to make his maintenance job a little extraordinary. 

“Some of the animals are very inquisitive,” he grins. “The squirrel monkeys will sit on your shoulder and try to steal your tools if they’re not being used!”

Customer Voices

What does an electrician do to help animals?

At Drusillas Park, the wellbeing of the animals is paramount. Particularly during winter, Colin needs to make sure the animals are warm, as some of them come from exotic climates and don’t cope well with low temperatures, so if a heater goes down, he needs to act fast.

As well as that, he ensures all the security cameras are working so zoo keepers can monitor the animals’ safety, as well as UV lighting in the enclosures so the animals get the light source they need – especially in winter when there’s less natural sunlight.

Customer Voices

And it’s not just animals – maintenance is important for visitors, too

As well as the animal enclosures, Drusillas Park features rides and play areas – but just like the animals, Colin’s job is to make sure visitors have the best time.

Most ride maintenance is done before the park opens, so he can work quickly and without the public around – meaning rides can run as normal during opening times.

There’s an area for the public to pet some of the animals, with taps and hand dryers provided so people can wash their hands after interacting with them, as well as interactive displays which are dotted around the park for people to use; these contain a lot of electrical components, such as buttons and control boxes.


Some of the animals are very inquisitive.  The squirrel monkeys will sit on your shoulder and try to steal your tools if they’re not being used!


Adapting to changes and challenges

The nature of engineering means there’s constant change and new things to learn, so to make sure he always does his job effectively, Colin works hard to stay ahead of the game.

“With this job you’re constantly learning,” he says. “Even after 35 years I’m attending college courses to keep up to date with training and technologies. At the moment it’s the new 18th Edition Wiring Regulations which focus on the environment and low energy fittings.”

The 18th Edition Wiring Regulations came into effect in January 2019, and there’s more information available on our website.
Colin also faces extra time constraints and considerations because of the environment he works in. When he needs to get into an enclosure to repair or assess something, the animals may need to be secured away for health and safety reasons, so he only enters an enclosure with the authorisation of a zoo keeper. For all the animals, they decide whether they need to be taken out first, or if they can remain in the enclosure with him while he works.

So not only does he tackle the day-to-day challenges other electricians face – but add a few mischievous lemurs and marmosets to the mix and there’s definitely no time for monkey business!

Colin’s job isn’t just about planned and reactive maintenance tasks, though. His work helps to keep the entire park running smoothly so that everyone visiting Drusillas Park has the best experience possible – but most of all, Colin can continue keeping his very special colleagues happy and comfortable.

Customer Voices

Discover Drusillas Park

What started as a family-run business in 1922 has transformed a derelict farm and 20 acres of land into the thriving attraction that is now Drusillas Park.

Widely known as the best small zoo in Europe, the park – based in East Sussex, England – welcomes between 350,000 and 370,000 visitors every year and is home to many amazing animals, from monkeys and meerkats to penguins and red pandas. Learn more about the magic of Drusillas Park.

Related products

Take a look at some of the products Drusillas Park buys from us, and see how our high-quality range can support your maintenance needs.

Related articles

The story of Drusillas Park highlights the importance of maintenance – even in places you least expect – so if you’d like to learn more, check out some of our related articles below. Here, you can access further information and advice on everything from new technologies and regulations, to the latest industry news and trends.
Moving into Modern Maintenance

Moving into Modern Maintenance

We understand the pace of change in industrial environments and are here to support the fast-paced world of maintenance engineers.

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New Regulations

New Regulations now in effect

The 18th Edition of the Wiring Regulations are now effective, and all new electrical installations now need to comply with BS7671:2018.

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