Name: Millie Sewell
Location: Lingfield Surrey
Employer: British Wildlife Centre – a non-profit organisation in wildlife conservation
I work closely with a wide range of British mammals, reptiles, and birds providing them with the best care possible enabling them to thrive within captivity. All animals are monitored and cleaned daily to ensure they remain in good health along with being offered fresh food and water. Regular enclosure maintenance is also provided to ensure no repairs are necessary and new enclosures are built and designed in a way that replicates the species natural habitat as closely as possible. Educating visitors and school groups by answering questions and giving regular talks, displays, and tours is a major part of the role as it allows people to form connections encouraging a positive change towards protecting wildlife and their habitats.
Majority of time is spent doing:
Daily enclosure maintenance including removing animal waste and leftover food, replacing bedding, raking, de-weeding, and washing windows. Education is another key part of the role and I spend a lot of time with visitors and school children furthering their knowledge and encouraging conservational efforts. Majority of time is spent outdoors whatever the weather.
There is seasonal variation:
With summer being our busiest season, most of my time is spent interacting with visitors by providing talks, walking around with owls to provide closer encounters, and interacting with the animals in their enclosures for people to watch. Being quieter in the winter means more time can be spent performing larger enclosure maintenance jobs including clearing our natural ponds of reeds, adding fresh sand and bark chip to enclosures, providing any essential repairs, and removing any branches/trees/plants to encourage new growth in the spring.
A National Diploma/Foundation Degree in Animal Management (or equivalent) is required, along with other skills and experience. Additional training is given on site.
As a zookeeper you need to be confident in approaching and handling various species. Being hardworking, practical, and having the ability to complete physical tasks in all weathers is crucial. It is also essential that you are approachable and friendly with great communication skills along with having the confidence to interact with often large groups of visitors of all ages. Good observational skills are also required to quickly spot any signs of illness or injury.
Advice to anyone looking at similar roles
As much as it is a cliché, my biggest piece of advice I would give to somebody starting an animal career is just be yourself. Make sure you have done research on the collection to ensure the job is right for you. When working alongside candidates that have come in for trial shifts some of the main attributes we look for are passion, enthusiasm, and an eagerness to learn new skills and knowledge. Working in such a small keeper team it is essential that everybody gets along well and being fun, bubbly, and outgoing is vital so let your personality shine through!
If you have any queries about this role or would like to ask a question of the job holder please contact Millie on email@example.com