“Probably the best job in the world.” That’s the verdict of a former Poole schoolboy turned head of birds at London Zoo, ahead of his appearance in a new television documentary.

Adrian Walls, 37, who grew up in Poole, now leads the bird team at the world’s oldest zoo, caring for 600 birds of 116 different species.

He and some of his keeper colleagues are appearing in The Zoo, a new documentary, airing next week, which takes a behind the scenes look at London Zoo in Regent’s Park The former Ashdown Secondary School pupil has come a long way from his career beginnings, when he started working at Merley Bird Gardens, Merley House, at the tender age of 16.

He now manages a large team of birdkeepers, where they have one of the most successful bird breeding records in Europe.

Adrian said: “Working at Merley Bird Gardens cemented my passion for birds and I am so proud to now be in charge of the birds at London Zoo.

“Having the documentary crew following us around was strange at first, but I’m glad people who watch it will be able to share a little bit of what is probably the best job in the world!”

It is the first time in 10 years cameras have been given access to all areas at the zoo.

The first of three episodes, which airs on ITV1 on Tuesday at 8pm, sees Adrian trying to save a king vulture chick – but each time one hatches the parents swoop in and eat it.

Series producer Richard Denton, who co-shot and directed the series, said: “It has been an extraordinary experience to go behind the scenes and share in both the triumphs and the disasters.

“The passion of the people who work in the Zoo, both for their animals and for conservation of animals in the wild, is truly impressive,” added Adrian.