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Paignton Zoo makes use of local woodturners' egg-cellent skills

If you're ever in Devon to visit the wonderful Paignton Zoo, we here at The ToolPost would suggest that you spend a bit more time than usual studying the bird enclosures - in particular, the nests! Those eggs that you might have thought contained a developing young soul soon to hatch and enter the world for the first time, may actually be convincing wooden dummies, created by the very talented members of the local woodturning club.

Dummy eggs are sometimes required to be placed in nests by the zoo's bird keepers if real eggs are taken to be hand reared. This kind of incubation is sometimes done if the eggs are important and there are fears that they might be accidentally broken by the parents. The eggs are then returned to the parents when they start to hatch.

137 eggs have been made in total by members of the renowned South West Devon woodturning club, Woodbury Woodturners Club, with the smallest being a mere centimetre in length and the largest measuring a stellar 20 centimetres. The idea arose when Senior Head Keeper of Birds at the zoo, Pete Smallbones, found out that his Front of House co-workers, Justin Fuller and Izzy Warren, had taken up woodturning as a hobby.

Pete commented: "We were talking and the idea of turning wooden eggs for the Bird department came up - and they really rose to the challenge." Although his initial request had been for dummy flamingo eggs, the woodturners ended up using a range of woods - from sycamore and yew to oak and beech - to create eggs in a much broader assortment of shapes and sizes.

Izzy, Justin and numerous members of the woodturners' club contributed eggs, which in some cases entailed just five minutes' work, and in other instances took as long as half an hour to make. Pete said that the zoo now had "a huge range of dummy eggs of different sizes - the smallest will be good for the shamas, the larger ones will be ideal for ostrich or flamingo. We really do appreciate this pretty amazing gift."

Meanwhile, Phil Knowling, spokesperson for Paignton Zoo, declared the eggs to be "real works of art" - and on the evidence of what The ToolPost's team has seen of them, we would certainly agree! If you're stuck for something to do for the rest of August when our shop remains closed on Saturdays, you might just want to go along to the Paignton zoo and see if you can distinguish between the real eggs and their remarkably well-crafted and convincing dummy counterparts.  Or maybe turn a few eggs of your own!

Editor's Note: The ToolPost ( is represented by the search engine advertising and digital marketing specialists Jumping Spider Media. Please direct all press queries to Louise Byrne. Email: or call: +44 (0)20 3070 1959 / +34 952 783 637.

1997-2010 P. Hemsley.  The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley.  Coeur du Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley.  Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for contingencies arising therefrom.  If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice