31 May 2017

I have been volunteering here at the zoo for a year now and it’s still one of the best experiences I’ve had. I have always been fascinated by animals of all shapes and sizes so when I found out I could volunteer it was perfect. I do hope to one day get a full time job at the zoo but volunteering isn’t just to help me get work experience, it’s also some of the most fun I’ve had – you never fully know what the day is going to bring.

There are so many different aspects of the job that I love, one being the amazing people I get to meet every day. Every one of the staff is so lovely and helpful, always willing to have a chat and answer any questions we have, which really makes you feel comfortable and confident when it comes to going out and about in the zoo. I have met some amazing people who have come to visit including members who love to tell me about their favourite parts of the zoo and the fun experiences they have had; people who have come on holiday to Chester specifically to visit the zoo, and the people who have come just to have a fun day out. I really enjoy telling the visitors fun and interesting information about the animals and the work that the zoo does all around the world. It’s amazing to see people who are genuinely interested in the world around them and how they can make their mark to help, and of course seeing the children completely amazed and fascinated by these beautiful creatures makes it worthwhile on its own.

A volunteer engaging with a visitor at the zoo.

Volunteering has given me a huge boost in confidence, making me feel a lot more comfortable with public engagement and in my day-to-day life. I have also learnt so much about the animals in the zoo, which I love to share with the visitors. One of my favourites is seeing the different reactions when you tell people that panthers don’t exist and that’s it’s just an umbrella term for any large cat with a black coat. With there being over 500 species there is always something new to learn every day.

The biggest perk of the job is being able to observe the animals. All of the habitats are specially designed to be as natural as they can and it’s amazing to see the work and the care that goes in to looking after them.  It’s amazing to see the intelligence of some of the animals. I’ve had the pleasure of being able to watch an orangutan try and get comfy under a sack being used as a blanketand hear the sheer power of a tigers bite as they eat their lunch. Getting to know their personalities is one of the best experiences. Whether it’s raining non-stop or the sun is blasting out heat I’m always happy to come in for my shift. Chester Zoo is one of the best places to work in I would recommend it to anyone, especially if they have an interest in the natural world around them and how to help protect it.