Let's Talk about the Animals

5 Apr 2019 | Volunteer Stories

Let's Talk about the Animals

Rebecca Smith is a volunteer at Auckland Zoo. She is a graduate of the Tuatara Club, which is a 6 months programme for young volunteers, 15-17 years, to learn about the zoo before they are then able to act as Visitor guides and assist with other Zoo activities in a more 'hands on' role. Here is her story.

"I loved animals and wanted to help out with an organisation that is associated with animals and learn more about animal care. I found out about the work on the Auckland Zoo website.

In the future I would like to become a future worker at the zoo – perhaps a Zoo keeper and work with the big cats.

This year I have been doing a ‘Certificate of Animal Care’ which is a 1 year course at UNITEC. It looks at legally owned animals – their welfare, biology and the rules and regulations. I also do Dog walking for a company and take a group of them to a park for socialisation skills.

I began volunteering at 16, in the Tuatara Club, every Saturday for 6 months. At first we learned about our own (NZ) native animals. Now I am a visitor assistant throughout the day, help with directions and talk about the animals. You also gain experience in the different sectors such as behavioural enrichment - you are always learning.

I hope to apply for a 6 month Zookeeper internship which would begin in October.

I recommend volunteering highly for what you get out of it. We are required to do a minimum of once a fortnight, but there is flexibility. You get to talk to others about animals – which is something that makes you and others happy."

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