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GALLERY: Ex-police chief finds a new beat to patrol at Jersey Zoo

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FROM catching criminals to chatting about cocoons and copulating butterflies – it’s a stark change from the old days for former police chief Mike Bowron.

The retired Jersey top cop, who once also led the City of London force, has, in his words, transferred his passion for policing to wildlife. He is one of 350 volunteers who help out at Jersey Zoo, from working in its shop to helping look after animal and insect residents.

And for Mr Bowron, a ranger in the butterfly and Galapagos tortoise section, there are some similarities to the old job.

‘Butterflies are amazing creatures but their sole purpose in life is to consume as much fermented fruit as they can, fight off competitors and then mate. They drink, fight and mate – not too different to some Saturday nights, then,’ Mr Bowron joked.

The former States police chief, who joined the force in 2011 before retiring last year, started volunteering with Durrell in December. His role is to help manage the butterfly and Galapagos tortoise section and interact with the public there as well as at the lemur and gorilla enclosures. He helps, on average, two days a week.

Volunteers such as Mr Bowron give more ‘value to the ticket price’ according to Daniel Craven, volunteer manager for the charity. The former police officer and other rangers are placed in zones where the boundaries between the animals and visitors are blurred. Rangers keep the animals and public safe and also share their knowledge.

And as a large owl butterfly, native to Brazil, lands on his chest, Mr Bowron (61) said: ‘I’ve trained him to do that!

Volunteering at Jersey Zoo. Butterfly enclosure. Volunteer Mike Bowron with a Forest Owl butterfly on his chest. Picture: JON GUEGAN. (25412019)

‘But seriously, for some people, retirement can be a bit daunting or quite tricky to manage. For me it has been seamless. I get to do my bit and I have been able to transfer my passion for policing into wildlife. I can do some work and I don’t have the pressures of targets or other things – I’m free.

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‘I thought I had the best job in the world when I became Commissioner of the City of London Police. Then the Jersey job came along and I thought: “How lucky am I, I’ve had the two best jobs in the world.” But then I get this job at Durrell and that’s three corkers in a row.’

Mr Craven said volunteers were as much members of the Durrell team as anyone; they wear the same uniform and work towards the same goal – conservation.

‘There are lots of health and wellbeing benefits to volunteering,’ he said. ‘Some people may be lonely. At Durrell we say you don’t have to be, you can come here and be part of it.

‘Volunteers help save us money and they also help us spread the word. It all helps with conservation and that is what we are all here to do.’

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When asked if he was apprehensive about his 37-year policing career coming to an end, Mr Bowron said: ‘My legacy at the force was the new station, so when that was done I knew my time was up. I stayed for a few more months just to experience it.

‘I always wanted to do some volunteering when I retired and then I saw this role advertised online. I love it.’

Mr Bowron said he had always had an interest in wildlife.

‘I used to have a pet tortoise and yeah, the horse too.’ As Commissioner of the City of London force, Mr Bowron, who was famed in Jersey for his walks down King Street, would patrol through central London on a police horse called Finn.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
author

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