I always knew I wanted to be a zoo keeper – so it’s a dream to become a rhino keeper. From a young age I had an interest in animals and this resulted in many trips to Chester Zoo. The more time I spent there the more my interest in animals grew. My favourite animal was always the rhinoceros and when visiting the zoo I spent a lot of time watching them.
For a birthday present when I was 15, I received a ‘Keeper For A Day Experience’ at Chester Zoo on the rhino section. I fully enjoyed the day and I then knew that keeping was definitely the job for me. I not only got to see behind the scenes and meet some of the animals on the day but I also learnt that the money raised goes into a fund that staff at the zoo can use for visits and expeditions that will benefit them in their job. Many of the staff go out to help with some of the conservation projects we run or support around the world.
Straight after finishing high school I began a HND in Animal Care and Behaviour. This was a 2/3 year home study course. I really enjoyed the course and completed it within 9 months achieving the highest grades possible.
Following that I applied for a one year animal internship at Chester Zoo. I was lucky enough to get a place on my first choice section, rhinos. I spent the next year working alongside the rhino team learning everything from day to day animal husbandry, vet work, rhino mixing, training and much more. Working on the section helped me to gain the experience I needed to become a keeper. I was fortunate enough to stay on another year and gained in total 2 years’ experience working with the rhino team.
I was covering on the elephant section as a temporary keeper when my dream job became available. I applied, and was lucky enough to get it. In September, I’ll have been working at Chester Zoo as a rhino keeper for 6 years and I still love my job as much now as the first day.
Being part of Chester Zoo means I know I am also contributing to the zoo’s mission, which is to be a major force in conserving biodiversity worldwide. We do this through a combination of field conservation, research, conservation breeding, animal welfare and education.
To help, please support our black rhino conservation project now, and remember 100% of your donation goes to help rhinos in the wild.
I am Claire McPhee, Rhino Keeper and I Act for Wildlife!