Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 12:12 UK

Retiring army goat's new zoo home

Billy on his retirement parade
Billy the Goat has been with the Army most of his life

He has seen service overseas, met royalty and led every battalion parade, but after eight years on the job, it is time for William Windsor to retire.

But unlike other old soldiers, this veteran will be spending his final days in a zoo - because he is the regimental goat, better known as Billy.

The four-legged member of 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh was cheered from his trailer with pomp and ceremony.

He will spend his honourable retirement at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire.

The nine-year-old was led into his trailer by the battalion's Goat Major in full ceremonial dress, in preparation for a journey to the zoo.

The route from his pen to the trailer was lined by soldiers from the regiment to say farewell and thank you to Billy for his many years of good service.

Billy was not a mascot but a ranking member of the regiment.

His main role was marching at the front of the battalion on all ceremonial duties.

He spent two-and-a-half years overseas in Cyprus when the battalion was posted over there and has lived in Chester since their return.

During his time in Cyprus, he was even disciplined and temporarily demoted from his rank of Lance Corporal to Fusilier for not marching in time during a parade for the Queen's birthday.

Billy being waved off by the regiment
Billy was waved off by members of the regiment

Billy had his own full-time carer during his military service , Lance-Corporal Ryan Arthur, known as the goat major, who ensured his welfare at all times.

Captain Nick Zorab said: "Every parade the regiment has taken part in, he's been there. He'll have met members of the royal family.

"He's being retired to Whipsnade Zoo. It's just (because of) his age.

"He's eight years old now, so he's got a few more years left.

"The soldiers themselves love having him - it's a bit of a novelty in these days. He's very friendly and not aggressive at all.

"He likes being out and about and meeting people. We have never had any complaints."

Soldiers from the battalion lined the route from his pen to the trailer as he left the camp for the last time.

His replacement will be chosen from a herd on the Great Orme in Llandudno in June.



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