Aviary keeper Joy leaves the nest after 14 years

19:08, Apr 01 2014
 Joy Agnew
NO MORE RUFFLED FEATHERS: Joy Agnew has retired from her role looking after the Caroline Bay and Botanic Gardens aviaries after 14 years. 

After feeding the birds and cleaning at the Botanic Gardens and Caroline Bay aviaries for 14 years, Joy Agnew has proudly pulled up sticks.

Agnew retired on Monday as a contractor for the two Timaru District Council aviaries, proud of what she had achieved in her time there.

She initially took on the contract with her husband, and they were part of a joint effort to save the aviary at Caroline Bay.

The Timaru District Council was going to dismantle the aviary, but as a result of campaigning and fundraising efforts, the aviary was moved metres away, with the inside redesigned and flights rebuilt.

"We had 12 months to raise $25,000.

"The council told us we were mad, but we did it," Agnew said.


She said her husband died seven years ago of cancer, and did not get to see the final result.

He had drawn the original plans for the current aviary and she felt it was a nice monument to his memory.

Agnew said one particularly memorable moment was when she was picking up the goldfish for the pond, donated by a family living on North St.

"I was driving along in the van with them in a big bucket full of water, and forgot they were in there.

"Suddenly I heard a big whoosh, and then the fish flapping around.

"I had to gather them up before my little dog did.

"I stopped and refilled the water, and they were fine," she said.

She plans to spend more time with her grandchildren, but said she will miss her job, which always felt like the continuation of a hobby.

"I suppose I will be a bit lost for a day or two. I can always come down and say ‘hi' to all the birds, though."

The Timaru Herald