Being an Animal Care Volunteer
It’s National Volunteer Week and to celebrate we thought we’d tell you a bit more about a new addition to the Perth Zoo Docent (volunteer) Association – our new Animal Care program*, find out more from team leader, Katrina.
My shift starts at 7.00am and most days the keepers are here before me, preparing for the day ahead. After a morning briefing we all head off to do our allocated tasks.
I have always respected the Keepers for the great work they do but until I actually joined them on the ground, I had no idea how much work the keepers do before the Zoo even opens!
I have become a very enthusiastic ‘Pooper Scooper’ as I am under instruction to keep an eye out for different scats (poos) for the interactive tables where visitors get to find out who’s poo is that?. I even got the task of trying to work out which is the male and female Koala scat - each has a different smell (who knew?)!
When you’re in the grounds with the keepers it is exciting to see how passionate and caring of the animals and exhibits they are, and how much pride they take in their work. Some keepers chat away to the animals, like Keeper, Emma who loves a chat with the two Hyenas.
Perth Zoo Keeper, Petra, is always on the move, I refer to as the Pocket Rocket. I was lucky to work with her in the Sumatran Tiger exhibit, where we had to put new sand and fresh mulch down. We thought we were doing well until Petra joined us, working at an incredible pace.
As a regular Docent I had failed to realise how much is involved with the food preparation that is done every day. For example the Cassowary eats three large boxes of food a day and some of that has to be cut small enough for the chick to eat as well. It is no wonder the keepers are grateful for the extra sets of voluntary hands.
We also have volunteers who help the Zoo researchers by observing and recording the behaviours of the animals. This plays a role in constantrly improving the animal husbandry at Perth Zoo. The Zoo is always striving to provide the very best lives for the animals in their care.
Katrina Purich, Animal Care Team Leader
*If you want to help care for the 1500 animals that call Perth Zoo home you need to have been a Docent at the Zoo for three years.
Perth Zoo does an annual recruitment for interested volunteers.