Teaching a penguin how to swim, battling through storm damage and using a sledge to feed birds in the snow are just some of the challenges facing keepers at one of the Cotswold’s top attractions.

Alistair Keen is the head keeper at Birdland in Bourton and he has been shedding light on his experiences over the years.

His journey began over 20 years ago when he saw a job advert in the local newspaper.

“I’m very lucky to be able to call this my office every day, it’s a fantastic job which has its challenges, but I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing,” he said.

Cotswold Journal: Over the years Alistair Keen has cared for a number of celebrity penguins. Photo: Cotswold House PhotographyOver the years Alistair Keen has cared for a number of celebrity penguins. Photo: Cotswold House Photography

It is the park’s penguins that generate much of the excitement in Alistair’s career.

In 2015 he hand-reared a king penguin, named Charlotte in honour of the Royal baby born at that time.

Charlotte was scared of getting her feathers wet, so Alistair sported a snorkel and submerged himself in the pool to encourage her to do the same.

He said: “I know penguins can’t fly but she was making a pretty good attempt in her bid to avoid taking the plunge.

“In the wild the chicks only learn to swim by following their parents into the water so I, as her adopted dad, felt obliged to get in and try and show her how it was done.”

Charlotte isn’t the only famous penguin at the park.

Seth, who hatched as an imported egg in 1985 and is now the oldest male king penguin in Europe, starred in the film Batman Returns.

He was part of the Penguin’s army which tried to take over Gotham and can be seen in one scene wearing a rocket launcher.

Another prominent resident is Spike, who featured in a Penguin biscuit advert and now has over 14,000 Facebook followers.

Cotswold Journal: The penguins at Birdland have featured in biscuit adverts and Hollywood blockbustersThe penguins at Birdland have featured in biscuit adverts and Hollywood blockbusters

Dealing with celebrity penguins isn’t all Alistair gets up to at work.

A typical day starts at 7:30am with a quick sweep of the residents to make sure everyone is fit and healthy.

He then has to prepare all the food for the day before a big clean-up effort begins, with the flamingos are known for causing a lot of mess when kept inside overnight.

Another important job is answering the many questions asked of him by guests each day.

“Probably the one I’m asked the most is whether the penguins are real - they do stand still a lot, so people think they are models” he said.

“The other question is why do they not fly away? Of course, penguins can’t fly.”

Birdland is open every day throughout the year, from 10am to 5pm during the summer months.