“I’ve always been fascinated by anything to do with animals and conservation – one of my earliest memories was memorising the entire contents of my zoo guidebook and getting my parents to test me on all the animal facts! Through my childhood I used to spend my entire summer holidays collecting insects and bugs from the garden and making mini ‘zoo’ habitats for them. I’ve since enjoyed years of visiting Chester Zoo as a member and been constantly inspired by all the incredible work that goes on both inside and outside the zoo the protect the worlds wildlife.
“I have a full time job travelling all over the country working for a large supermarket chain, so it’s fair to say I have a pretty busy working life!!! When the opportunity to volunteer at Chester Zoo came up I didn’t even think twice about giving up some of my very precious days off helping to support them in their conservation education mission. I’ve been volunteering now for eight months and still look forward to every shift!
“As a long-time supporter of Chester Zoo I felt privileged to actually be part of their team. Right from day one of our training all of the volunteers were made to feel so welcome and genuinely as important as any of the regular members of staff. There was so much more information to learn than I imagined. We learned about health and safety policies, heard amazing facts about some the most critically endangered species Chester cares for and were shown what an incredible amount of work goes on behind the scenes, and overseas, to protect our animals at risk of extinction. However, the training was so well paced and delivered at no point did it ever feel overwhelming.
“Putting on my zoo uniform for my first volunteer shift gave me a real sense of pride! I couldn’t wait to get started and share all I had learnt with our amazing visitors. My first day went really well – no awkward moments at all and I was buzzing all the way home!
“As a volunteer you are trained to deal with all kinds of questions and situations. From ‘where are the toilets?’ and ‘what does that animal eat?’ to how to respond to lost children. Thankfully I’ve never had anything that I couldn’t deal with and the challenging situations just make my day more interesting! My most common challenges have been dealing with lost children (and a few lost adults!!) and I’m sometimes asked some really difficult and obscure questions about the animals that I can’t always answer – but with over 20,000 animals at the zoo I can’t possibly know everything about them all!
“Without doubt the best thing about volunteering at Chester Zoo is being part of a dedicated and passionate team who have a shared passion for animals, conservation and delivering an amazing experience for our visitors. There’s nothing more rewarding than being at the exhibit of a critically endangered animal and sharing Chester Zoos breeding success, the work we do overseas to conserve that species and more importantly what our visitors can do to support this conservation work.
“As a child the highlight of my year was a visit to Chester Zoo. Now, many years later, the highlight of my week is a visit to Chester Zoo to volunteer! I’ve never volunteered before and it has genuinely been such a positive and worthwhile experience to give my time for such an incredible and world famous institution!
“If you’re thinking of volunteering at Chester Zoo then do it, do it, do it! You will get back as much as you put in and will be rewarded with knowing you are making a positive difference to the visitor experience and to the global conservation effort. My only bit of advice would be make sure you can commit to your shifts and invest in some comfy shoes and thermal underwear for those cold winter days!”