24 March 2014

Zookeeper for a Day: London Zoo.

Lions, Penguins and Giraffes, oh my!


When I was a kid I wanted to be a Vet or a Zookeeper working specifically with big Cats. Fast forward 20 or so years and due being terrible at biology, the closest I've come is volunteering at the RSPCA, owning a wee tabby beastie cat and hanging out with office monkeys, sorry, I mean colleagues.
  

Until now. For the record, being a Zookeeper for the day at London Zoo was one the coolest things I've ever done. Ever.



The day is started by meeting your zookeeper for the day, who gives you a touch of breakfast and a debrief of the day before heading out to do a few chores, namely mucking out & saw-dusting the Zebra & Okapi pens.



My monkeys workmates howled with laughter when they heard this, offering me all sorts of mucking out work for their friends, but laughter of our group and the reward of hand feeding Giraffes at the end of it more than compensated for any hardwork.


We wandered over to the aquarium to feed live locusts to some of the large fish and chat to the keepers...



before making dinner feed buckets for the Bearded Pigs. As you do. We then threw whole hazelnuts to them, much to their unmitigated delight.

I've never seen animals get so excited about small knobbly bits being chucked to them!



A leisurely stop before our lunch at Penguin beach was my utter highlight of the day. Or so I thought it would be...

Readers, meet Ricky, the Rockhopper Penguin. Cantankerous, mouthy and generally pretty awesome (so awesome he has his own facebook page).



We hung out with a pair super friendly Humbolt penguins, and did some token scrubbing of the rocks around Penguin beach - well eventually.



Admittedly I almost had to be pulled away from cooing at the Penguins and scheming how to fit one into my handbag.


All of our work now done, Lunchtime followed, then we were given wedges of steamed potatoes to feed to the Colobus Monkeys (check out the pure white baby in this Momma's arms)...


...and live mealworms and crickets for the Meerkats. *shudder*



We chatted with the keepers about how to make friends with Coatis (hint: take treats), which was utterly divine...


Then fed squares of sweet potato and carrot to Ringtailed Lemurs. I fell head over heels for them. Inquitisive, sweet, soft and the sweetest little sticky hand perfect for climbing trees.


With the sun setting and afternoon tea in our bellies, we left our new friends behind, trudging out of the zoo happy but knackered.


Everyone has asked me how you get involved doing this; I did the Zookeeper for a day at London Zoo (having found a Groupon for a half price experience) - In my mind it's the best donation to a working animal preservation society I've ever made. There are several around the UK with varying prices, and even half days especially for kids.

Do it. I ummed and ahhed for days about booking it in, and enjoyed every single crazy moment and already want to go back.
 
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16 comments :

  1. Replies
    1. It was the best day; sunshine, monkeys, laughter & penguins!

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  2. Zookeeper for a day sounds like such a blast. I love watching the feeding time when the animals run around all excited so I bet this was really amazing.

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    1. The animals were so cool, they had such different personalities too!

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  3. Looks absolutely fantastic! I love the picture of you with the ring-tailed lemur - looks like you bonded!

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    1. I fell in love with him - the trouble was it that it's only cupboard love...

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  4. That's so awesome! Off to investigate whether my local zoo has this program!

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    1. It was so, so much fun! There seem to be loads of zoos that do it.

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  5. I was waiting for you to write about this! Looks like you had an amazing day. Must keep an eye on groupon now.

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    Replies
    1. It was really had to not gush through the whole post.. :D

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  6. NO WAY! This is my dream day!!! I need to sign up right now!

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  7. I've seen these, I will have to keep an eye out on groupon! What a cool way to help out the zoo and still get up close and cuddly with the animals.

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  8. I'm a volunteer at London Zoo and I absolutely love it! I've not heard of anyone experience as a zeeper for the day so it's good to know that you enjoyed it :)

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  9. I think you've discovered my new calling. If I wasn't a designer/web programmer I'd definitely be a zoo keeper. Looks like such an amazing day with such an amazing array of animals! I can't wait for my turn when I volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary in Namibia later this year! I hope I have just as an amazing experience as you!

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  10. That is basically my dream day - I would have been exactly the same with the penguins they are my favourite things ever :) I reckon we go back together and grab one - I'll distract you grab it and stuff it up your jumper ;)
    Your day sounded amazing and you got penguins and giraffes I would have been more than happy with that, boo hiss to your office monkeys and their joking they just don't know how cool you are ;)
    x

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  11. What a fab experience! And I fell for the lemurs too! So cute!

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