“It’s autumn at the zoo. For the Zoo Ranger team, that means we are busy tidying up after the summer holidays and preparing for our winter activities. We’re open every day throughout the autumn season and need to be ready for our visitors who are about to arrive…
“We arrive just before 9am to change into our uniform, attend meetings and prepare for the day ahead. During this time we catch up on animal news, plan new events and liaise with other zoo teams to get everything ready before the zoo opens. There’s no such thing as a typical day for a Zoo Ranger. Adaptability and team work are key and we’re all excited to get out into the zoo to see what today will bring.
“It’s time to head out into the zoo to find some visitors! The first discover session starts at 10am so there is plenty for visitors to get involved with from the moment we open. Discover sessions usually showcase exciting artefacts (such as skulls, teeth and even real poo) along with interactive activities to get our visitor’s brains whirring. Today it is Discover Bugs in Butterfly Journey where we introduce our visitors to a fantastic real life Jungle Nymph. Visitors can get nose to nose with these huge green insects and learn about how important invertebrates are in their ecosystems, whilst watching beautiful butterflies!
“Next on the agenda are our scheduled talks. We start each day by introducing everyone to the Hi-Way family – our incredible herd of Asian elephants. We aim for our talks to be between 5-10 minutes but we can talk for much longer! Especially when our elephant calves, Aayu, Indali and Nandita, are playing around in the elephant paddock. After the talk we always make time to chat to our visitors. Lots of them want to find out even more and have plenty of questions to challenge our knowledge. Some of our visitors will walk with us to the next talk of the morning to discover more of our amazing animals.
“One of my favourite talks takes place in Dragons in Danger and is all about Komodo dragons. It is hard not to be impressed with Jan-tan our adult male and there are so many incredible (and recent!) discoveries about these reptiles that make it very easy to connect our visitors to these magnificent animals. We often use artefacts at our talks and I love getting out our fake blood which is the easiest way to demonstrate the effect of Komodo dragon venom!
“We feed the birds at this time. There’s one that takes place in Tropical Realm and one at the Tsavo bird aviary, on alternate days. The species in each bird feed are very different so it is hard to pick a favourite but the lilac-breasted roller has to be the most colourful! He is in Tsavo (our African aviary) where it is easy to see some of the amazing and complex nest building skills of some of our birds.
“It’s time to PLAY! This year we want all our visitors to play (yes grownups, you too!) and we have a busy playful schedule of activities to encourage you all to do just that! Most of our activities take place at Basecamp; the centre of our exciting new Madagascar play area. You can often find a Zoo Ranger there engaging families in all sorts of fun and games from Story Time for little ones, to playing giant snap or having a go on different musical instruments. My highlight is Play Show during which children join us on a Madagascan adventure, learning about some of the fabulous animals that inhabit Madagascan forests along the way.
“If we aren’t busy at PLAY! or at the afternoon talks then we will definitely be spending some time in Fruit Bat Forest. There is always a Zoo Ranger in there to answer questions and guide people through the habitat which can be quite daunting for some. We meet a huge number and variety of people in here; one moment we could be talking a group of excited school children and the next we’re chatting to a life-time zoo member. Some of our members visit often. This challenges us to keep learning more about our bats so that we can teach even the most seasoned visitor new things. And all the while we are stood in the dark with around 600 fruit bats! Needless to say, there is never a dull moment!
“Our day at the zoo is drawing to a close, just time for one more Discover session, this time in Spirit of the Jaguar. Our activity is all about interdependencies in the Amazon rainforest and how people can act to help stop deforestation.
“A lot of families will already know they can recycle paper but do they know how vanilla, rubber, tonic water, chocolate and coffee are linked to the rainforest? Do they know that we wouldn’t have Brazil nuts without the agouti? Or how our giant anteaters, jaguars, sloths, and tapirs are connected? And why do we only sell Shuka coffee at the zoo?
“As you can see, we could talk endlessly about the world’s rainforests. With such little pristine rainforest now found across the globe, we think it’s more important than ever that people know how they can act to help us protect them. That is why you will often see us shouting about sustainable palm oil and Rainforest Alliance at every possible opportunity!
“Back to the office after a busy day in the zoo, but there’s no time for a rest! We’ve got plenty of planning to be getting on with. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be celebrating World Animal Days, running our popular Sunday kids club, Junior Rangers and its already time to start thinking about what we will do to celebrate British Science Week next year… “