Being a part of our Chester Zoo family is a fundamental part of our volunteer programme.  From training to new friendships, from sharing knowledge to being active outside, volunteering can have a huge impact on people’s lives.  Here Stephen, one of our amazing volunteers shares his experience of volunteering at the zoo.

“Both my wife and I have been members of the zoo for a number of years and visit on a regular basis.  It was on one of our visits that I was speaking with a volunteer in the Jaguar House and before leaving said that I was interested in becoming a zoo Volunteer.  I hadn’t planned that and to this day I am still not sure how that happened, but I am very grateful for the advice that I was given.

“Once home, I went onto the zoo website, found the appropriate section and then submitted an application to go to an open day and so it began…

“I had done some volunteer work since retiring but did not find it satisfying after the first season.  The open day gave an insight into what was to come and I became ‘hooked’ by Chester Zoo.  On completion of training, being presented with the Volunteer’s uniform gave me a huge sense of achievement and pride which continues to this day.  Provision is also made for ongoing development with regular training sessions including World Host Ambassador training and CPR training.

“There is such a variety of locations, animals and visitors that no two shifts are the same.  It is always enjoyable and challenging but the support that you are given is superb.  Watching the animals in the various habitats is incredibly calming even during the busy periods.  I’m not sure that I have a favourite species, perhaps it is the one that I am working in front of and that will change at the next location on the shift.  In fairness though, you cannot get any better than seeing new born animals on their first outings in their habitats and following their development as they grow up.

“As an added bonus your fitness levels will improve with the amount of walking needed to get to the various locations.  However, you will not notice the distance as there are so many animals to distract you.

“Since starting, the reaction you get from people when you tell them you work at Chester Zoo is one of amazement and excitement.  This is especially so as people have become aware of the need for conservation and have also seen the TV programme The Secret Life of the Zoo.  The resulting questions that you are asked certainly keeps you on your toes, but also encourages you to search for the answers and in that respect it is very stimulating.

“There is a friendly atmosphere around the zoo with all volunteers and staff; it really is a great place to work and is immensely rewarding.  I would have no hesitation in recommending becoming a volunteer at Chester Zoo.”