What does the zoo mean to you?
How I view the zoo and what it means to me has changed throughout my life. As with most people, I went with my family and loved seeing the animals as a child, I particularly liked the Tropical Realm. As I got older I have seen different sides of the zoo, as through education, I have used resources and scientific research the zoo has published to help with my own studies at college and university. Now, I am able to work with the organisation internally and make a difference, which makes me really excited and proud to be part of the zoo’s work.
How have you supported the zoo recently or over a longer period of time?
Through visits, I have directly supported the zoo, as it is a charity so most of their funding comes from admissions which I think is really important for people to be aware of. I am also a big advocate for zoos as I did a degree in Zoo Management and am very passionate about conservation education. It always surprises me how narrow people’s views or prior understanding of zoos are and changing these perceptions to cater more appreciation and respect for the animals and people who work with them, is something I strive to do. As part of the Youth Board, we have also raised money as part of the Save Our Zoo campaign to help support the zoo during lockdown and raised £1900 altogether.
Why do you feel so connected and passionate about the zoo and its work?
I have always loved animals and like most animal enthused children watched all of David Attenborough’s documentaries. Going to the zoo and seeing these exotic plants and animals, sparked my interest. I gained more and more of an appreciation of the extent the zoo was going to, to protect these animals’ populations in the wild. Through their education, research and breeding programmes, the zoo continues to expand their impact and push the boundaries in regards to what they can do to help, which is seen in their Conservation Masterplan. All these points inspire me to do what I can to help the zoo with these goals and in their mission of preventing extinction.
What do you hope to achieve in your role on Chester Zoo Youth Board?
As part of the Youth Board, I hope to help young people engage and be involved with the work of the zoo and be inspired to make changes in their own lives to help support conservation in whatever way they can. I’d also love to create a network of like-minded young people who can work together with the help of the zoo to create change in the wider community locally and nationally, in different work sectors.
What have you got out of being part of the Youth Board?
Being part of the Youth Board has personally helped me develop many areas I had very little experience in. I had never been in a board meeting, written up an agenda or led a focus group to achieve a specific goal. This along with writing up and presenting reports and being part of director and trustee meetings, meant the first few months were quite nerve-wracking! However, this was made easier with the support from a professional mentor and from the rest of the Youth Board. Everyone is so friendly and understanding, meaning we work really well as a team and communicate effectively. We all come from different backgrounds and bring different experience to the board, which makes it even more exciting when we are coming up with new ideas. I am very optimistic about the future of conservation and the work the Youth Board will do to aid the zoo.