My name is Al Smith but everyone calls me Hillbilly Al, which got shortened to Hal some years ago, and it stuck. After leaving school, I decided that I wanted to be outside as much as possible so thought that a job with animals would be ideal Through BIAZA I found a job as a field biologist’s assistant, which I loved and it gave me a great opportunity to travel and see some amazing places, meet different people and to see animals in their natural habitat.
I soon learnt that I had a real passion for primates and talked to people about furthering this passion into a career. I was told about Rodbaston College and found I already knew someone that was a lecturer there, so I enrolled. After leaving Rodbaston I decided to look into zoo keeping as the Field Research had become a little bit too much, and I had at that time met the girl who would later become my wife, and I wanted to spend more time with her. I was lucky enough to work at several zoos all over the UK, my favourite being Dudley Zoo, because I met some of the best primate keepers I had ever worked with and had total respect for them.