IT might be the height of summer but Dudley Zoo is in hot pursuit of Santa.

The search to find the perfect Father Christmas to star in the busy grotto at the heart of the 11th century Dudley Castle has officially begun.

The paid position will see the right candidate spread festive cheer to visitors, groups and school parties between December 1 and 24.

Andrea Hales, the zoo's marketing manager, said: “Although it’s still sunny August, we’re launching a summer search for a Santa to join our hugely popular grotto.

“We’re after a friendly Father Christmas with a great sense of humour, who enjoys working with small children.

"We’ll supply the uniform but it would be wonderful if he had his own white beard.”

People can send a CV via email or post to or Marketing Department, Dudley Zoological Gardens, Castle Hill, Dudley DY1 4QF.

Festive photos can be included if they applicants have taken on the role previously.

The closing date for applications is August 31.