Volunteering at Chester Zoo: Graham's Story
We're celebrating National Volunteer Week with some backstage info from some of our zoo volunteers!
A long time ago, it feels like, I was a Biology teacher in secondary schools. I have been retired for some years now and, after my wife died, I decided to move to a new home in a new location.
I had wanted to volunteer for some years but could not find the right activity. Then I discovered that Chester Zoo was looking for volunteers to engage with visitors on the new Islands project which was going to concentrate on conservation issues. I thought that I could make use of my expertise and give something to the community and so I was pleased to be accepted on the training programme. The training I received was excellent and enabled me to develop my skills and knowledge.
I started volunteering in the zoo over two years ago and have enjoyed it immensely. I like the great mix of people who volunteer. I feel part of a team where everyone feels valued and where everyone is treated as an equal. Volunteering gives a shape to my week and I have learnt detailed information about different species by talking to keepers and other staff.
A volunteer engaging with visitors at the zoo.
I have been impressed with the ongoing training offered to existing volunteers and extra opportunities offered, such as going into primary schools with the zoo’s Safari Rangers or helping the Rangers with the new PLAY! zone. I have also helped to train new volunteers.
One of my favourite things is my walk to ‘work’ on Islands. It is like no other walk to work passing penguins, lions and cheetahs. By the time I get to my station I am already feeling exhilarated, even in the winter! I enjoy talking to people and hopefully give them some interesting information about the animals or conservation. Sometimes it’s really good for folk to share where they are from and information about animals; connecting with each other is what life is all about.