Volunteers’ Week is a time to celebrate and thank volunteers worldwide. We’d like to raise awareness of ZSL’s amazing team by sharing some stories from current UK volunteers…
I’m loving the ZSL Zoo lifestyle! I joined in March 2019 as a Presenter and started volunteering towards the end of my first season! Best decision ever! As an elephant Keeper Volunteer you find yourself doing all sorts – cleaning, preparing food, make animal enrichment. I was very lucky that Christmas Day 2019 fell on my volunteer day so I got to spend my Christmas morning with the team and animals! One of my favourite memories of ZSL so far, was the first time I met the elephants up close. I popped down to grab some bits from the team and was offered the chance to meet the elephants quickly. That was it, I was hooked, I had to spend more time with them! I am very proud to be part of ZSL and everything it stands for!
I have been helping for about 15 years looking after two water systems that clean and recycle the water that some of the animals live in at Whipsnade Zoo; the greater part (and the most challenging) is clearing up after the hippos, or perhaps they should be called the hippoos! Part of the system includes ten reed beds that stretch from part way down Sir Peter’s Way almost to Dagnall Village. This is a peaceful area with many birds, plants and other wildlife, and is a great place to sit and think. Thinking of all the work ZSL undertakes, who wouldn’t be proud and enthusiastic to have a tiny part in such an important enterprise?
I started at Whipsnade in 2015, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to join the Education Team in 2016. I stumbled across the advertisement to volunteer and had only recently visited the Zoo with a friend for the first time since I was a child, and thought that was something that sounds like fun, I can do that... And I was right! As an Education Volunteer, I support the Education Officer, and assist with the activities in the sessions which usually consist of talking about the artefacts (skulls, fur, stuffed animals), adaptations and conservation. The children are always keen and enthusiastic to learn about the animals and conservation. Volunteering for me is feeling part of the ZSL community, and everything that comes with it… The teams are great fun to be around, and I know that I’ll still be around for a long time to come yet!
I have always loved wildlife since my childhood living in Somerset. My parents brought me to London Zoo when I was only four years old, but I wasn't a volunteer then! I became a volunteer in 1991, and thirty years later I am still enjoying it. Meeting visitors and telling them about our wonderful animal collection is so rewarding - the personal touch really matters. I'm part of a team of very enthusiastic colleagues, and we count each other as good friends. Apart from formal training, we support and learn from each other. Some years ago, Her Majesty the Queen visited the Zoo, and my friend Ann was holding a giant land snail. " Oh how horrid" said Her Majesty, Ann replied "There are no horrid animals Ma'am"!
The best thing about being me right now is that I have a new grandchild being born soon. I am so excited and I’ve already bought a few ZSL soft toys ready for play! I've been part of ZSL for the past 4 years. Wildlife is very much in my DNA so I applied and have enjoyed every minute since. I like to surprise our visitors with animal information and make sure that they have a great day as soon as they arrive. We meet people from all spheres of life but it is the children and their unexpected questions that really lights up my day. In 2019, I also became an Ectotherm volunteer in the Butterfly House and Aquarium. I always look for the crocodile lizard that tends to be shy; some days I’m lucky to see it! Volunteering at Whipsnade takes me out of my day-to-day life and I feel that I make a real contribution to the ZSL operation ensuring that our visitors have their best day out; a real win win. I am so proud to be a Whipsnade volunteer…
I’ve been a volunteer at Whipsnade Zoo since June 2018. I took retirement earlier that year, and a friend who was already a volunteer at the zoo prompted me to apply, as she felt I was “made for the role!” I was fortunate to join just a few weeks before the birth of our wonderful Amur tiger cubs, and I have been so privileged to watch their growth and development over the last two years. The tigers are one of my three favourite animals, the others being the elephants and the giraffes. I just cannot imagine life without sharing my enthusiasm with our visitors!
I started my volunteer journey with ZSL in 2015 as a Community Challenge and Events volunteer. This was a way to get more industry experience whilst at university. I have been extremely lucky that my experience volunteering contributed to me being able to get a full-time role in an animal welfare charity; the fact I still come in every week despite achieving that goal hopefully shows how much I enjoy it! In 2017 I started volunteering with the BUGS! section. A project I am really passionate about being involved with is with the Fen Raft spider conservation programme. Being able to help rear tiny fen raft spiderlings to adults each year before they are reintroduced back into the wild, right here in the UK, is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. It is always one of my go-to examples for how ZSL makes a direct contribution to conservation and hope it can help people think about the amazing native animals we need to protect.
A huge thank you to all ZSL volunteers across the globe - everyone at ZSL is extremely appreciative of all your support, 365 days of the year.
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