The jobs are temporary, at basic wages, and some involve cleaning up after zoo animals. But Britain is suffering a recession, so when the help-wanted ads appeared, about 3,000 people applied, including laid-off executives and company bosses.

In fact, Twycross Zoo was overwhelmed by job hunters, who caused a five-mile (eight-kilometer) traffic jam when they all arrived for Saturday's recruitment day, said spokeswoman Kim Riley.

The zoo, in Atherstone, central England, is home to lions, elephants and dozens of primates, and it advertised for temporary cleaners, cooks and park rangers.

Riley said Sunday that people who had previously held well-paid, skilled jobs were among those who registered interest in posts that usually are worked by college students.

"It's been overwhelming, but understandable when you turn on the television and see that hundreds of jobs are being lost every day," she said.

Successful applicants will work from late March to September for basic wages, dealing with an expected upsurge in visitors as Britons chose to holiday at home as a result of the economic downturn. The zoo attracts about half a million visitors per year.

"These are roles usually taken by students. You don't expect to see heads of households, or company directors, coming to apply, but we saw all kinds of people here yesterday," Riley said.

She said applicants came from as far away as London and Wales to fill out application forms.

"It's now going to be a huge task for our human resources department, as we need people to start work in under a month," she said.

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