Meet Our Team 11/08/2016


How long have you worked here? 7 years.

What animals do you work with? 11 different species of carnivore including Asiatic lion, Sumatran tiger, jaguar, northern cheetah, serval, Scottish wildcat, African painted dog, bush dog, giant otter, Malayan sun bear and spectacled bear.

Tell us an interesting facts about you: I started out at Chester Zoo as an intern on the Rhino section and always thought my passion lay with hoof stock but after getting a taste of working with Carnivores I knew this is where I wanted to work. I also owns a horse so once work at the zoo is done for the day I have even more poo shovelling to do.

Rachael Bodenham - Chester Zoo

Why did you become a keeper? I have always had a huge passion for animals, finding animal behaviour fascinating and am highly motivated in wanting to help to conserve endangered species.

What’s your favourite animal and why? It has been the Jaguar for the last 3 years as it is an animal I have been lucky enough to have been working most closely with. I think my passion for this animal is really down to how incredibly intelligent they are, everyday we try to find new ways to challenge their intelligence such as different ways of presenting or hiding their food and I am always amazed by the results. 

They also have other fantastic characteristics such as having the strongest jaw out of all the big cats, being fantastic climbers, remarkable swimmers and nothing seems to faze them tackling everything head first.

What’s the best part of your job? Due to working with unpredictable animals, everyday is different and is constantly throwing new challenges at you. Also being part of a such a great team and getting to see the Sun Bears every morning is just so rewarding.

Rachael Bodenham - Chester Zoo

What’s the worst part of your job? Winter!

What’s been your most memorable moment in your career to date? So many moments to choose from! The arrival of the sun bears will be something I will never forget!

What’s so special about Chester Zoo? Chester has such an amazing passion for wildlife, it is the leading UK animal collection with the largest number of public visitors per year and supports so many conservation projects all over the world.

Have you visited any of our conservation projects abroad? If so which ones and what did you do? In October 2014 I fortunate enough to travel to Argentina to visit one of our incredible South American conservation projects that we have been supporting. This project is attempting to reintroduce the Jaguar into the Ibera marshlands of Corrientes a northern province of Argentina where they haven't inhabited for over 70 years. 

The marshlands is also the second largest wetlands in the world. The Jaguar reintroduction is only part of the enormous Ibera project with many other animal reintroductions such as Giant Anteater and the Collared Peccary to name a few taking place, as well as large amounts of land management and restoration. During my time in Argentina I was able to share skills learnt at Chester Zoo on Jaguar husbandry and safe working practise's with the Jaguar keeping team in Ibera. I was also able to bring home a good understanding of what it takes to prepare an animal for release into the wild particularity a top predator such as the Jaguar as well as learning what it takes to conduct such as large scale re-wilding project.