Animal Collection Keeper
Shepreth Wildlife Park
00:00:02 My name is Rebecca W. I’m the Animal Collection Manager of Shepreth Wildlife Park, which means I manage the entire collection so from going out and feeding the animals to dealing with licenses and legislation. The animals that we have at the park are varied so we’ve got everything from rabbits and deers through to big cats, wolves, primates. So, we’ve gone from rescuing animals through to the breeding programmes and we’re doing a lot of work with conservation charities now as well.
00:00:27 I love studying. I’m so sad! I love to learn. So, yeah, I was always, always very studious and, yeah, I definitely loved learning, sure. So, when I was little, I was born here. So, I wanted to be a vet and I wanted to be a vet at the park and then, I’ll never forget, when I was about 13 or 14 I was lucky enough to go and do some work experience at the local veterinary surgery. So, I’m sitting there and she’s about to operate, she cuts open, I don’t remember a thing. I passed out. So, I kind of thought, “Ok, so that isn’t for me.”
00:01:01 And then I went onto a totally different realm and decided I wanted to be a lawyer. I don’t know why I wanted to become a lawyer. I think, I loved studying so probably it was a challenge, I guess. Got my place at law school and took a year out. So that was probably where everything changed. So, in the year out I was broke, not a penny to my name and a job came up at a magazine that I applied for. I didn’t think I’d get it. A year later they were promoting me, company car and perks and things like that, so I wrote to the university and said, “Is there any chance I can get a year off, another year off?” And they said, “Yeah, that’s fine.”
00:01:32 Sales were going up, I was promoted to manager and da de da and wrote back to the university and said, “Ok, so I need another year to defer because I really want to get this life experience,” and they said, “Forget it, because you’re obviously not interested.” So, I made that decision at that point not to go to university. And then as I was at the magazine I was heavily into sales and it just kind of wasn’t me. It was a lot of entertaining, wining and dining to really get the sales in and stuff and it wasn’t me.
00:02:02 I’d always worked here, though. Always from 16 I’d always worked here at weekends voluntary and always helped out with the animals so the opportunity came up at the wildlife park, it was a family business so they wanted to try and get more of my brothers and sisters involved, so I took the job. So, I did a zoo management degree. Every night I was literally working in the park until it gets dark and then going in and literally studying. So, kind of everything was kind of mad but I love that. I love that about life, that you haven’t got time to think because there’s always something going on.
00:02:32 It took me quite a few months to make that decision because of the money and the lifestyle I was living then to what I’d doing now, but I don’t have any regrets. But at the time it was quite a difficult decision to make and of course the park seven, eight years ago wasn’t doing very well so the future of a position here as well wasn’t set in stone. So, there was a lot of kind of decisions that I had to go through and now I just love it because the whole place has turned around and we’re really starting to make a name for ourselves as well as Shepreth Wildlife Park.
00:03:05 The thing that I guess I get my most rewards from is the tiger day. So I do an annual tiger day that started about four years ago and this year we blew the park out and it was the busiest day that we’d ever had here in 25 years. But the most important thing is that everyone left knowing about the charity. I think people are starting to take us seriously and know that it’s not just about us trying to help ourselves. We’re trying to give back where we can. By helping all these other charities that we help I go to bed feeling really good because I think not only are we looking after the animals here, but we’re doing something a little bit bigger that I couldn’t do as an individual if I wasn’t here.
Rebecca W is the Animal Collections Manager at Shepreth Wildlife Park. She’s had some major changes of career direction. Originally she wanted to be a vet but she passed out during work experience and realised perhaps it wasn’t for her. Then she was enthusiastic about going into law, got a place at law school but went to work in publishing instead. The money and perks were good but she realised it wasn’t what she wanted to do as a career, so she went back to the idea of animals and took a degree in Zoo Management. She’d always worked at the zoo in her spare time because she’s a member of the family that owns it. Now she loves it.
More information about Animal care services occupations n.e.c.
The UK average salary is £28,758
There are 37.5 hours in the average working week
The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male
- Feeds, washes, grooms, trims and exercises animals;
- Cleans animals’ quarters and renews bedding as necessary;
- Houses, feeds, exercises, trains, grooms horses, dogs and other animals in preparation for entry to shows, races and other events;
- Checks animals for illness, treats minor ailments or calls for vet if further treatment is required;
- Meets prospective owners and advises on animal selection and animal care;
- Patrols public areas to search for and capture stray or nuisance dogs, and transports captured animals to kennels.
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