1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
My role increased throughout my time at Shepreth Wildlife Park but involved a large array of tasks such as feeding the animals, cleaning them out, environmental enrichment. I kept the general appearance of the park tidy include light gardening duties and grounds maintenance.
When tasks were done I had the opportunity to interact with the animals and at times show them to the public. In particular I did this with the squirrel monkeys and coati.
I also watched vet visits to see how the sick animals were treated.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I learned so many new skills including:
People skills. Animal management. Basic medical skills.
Most of all I gained a general understanding of zoo animals which led me into further edification to become a zoo keeper.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoyed the programme immensely, it was like a once in a lifetime experience. I got to get up close to some amazing animals and really learn a lot about them, the environment they live in and reasons they came to the park in the first place.
I feel like it gave me experiences in life that many dream of and I am extremely grateful for this.
4. How valued do you feel by Shepreth Wildlife Park?
The park is family run and I felt very much a part of this family when doing my placement. There were a couple of others on placement too and we were all treated very well and given access to everything the trained zookeepers accessed. You hear some horror stories about this placements where people are made to make the tea and do menial tasks but I got to do everything and was made to feel like I belonged there.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I wouldn't say it was the most organised or structured programme. I didn't get a timetable or list of tasks but I liked this. Each day was different so when I came in there would be a little meeting and tasks dished out. It felt like I was part of the time and really got involved.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
As this is a small family company there was so training provider. I went on two work experience placements here, one off my own back and one through my colleague. My colleague was very supportive during my placement but to be honest I didn't have much contact with them.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
The support received was brilliant, I was made to feel like I was a member of the team. I have a specific person I could report to if I had any problems but overall I didn't. I miss being there because I was made to feel so welcome.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
I didn't receive any pay for this placement only expenses for travel costs. I didn't mind this as it was something that progressed my education and was such a unique experience that others would pay a lot of money for.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
No there wasn't any out of work activities. I lived a train ride away but only a handful of trains left that station each day, so when the day was over I would rush for the last train home.
I do believe there were activities though like drinks at the local pub, should people wish to.
9. Would you recommend Shepreth Wildlife Park to a friend?
I believe it is a truly amazing experience that even if you don't end up in hat field it is worth doing as you learn so much.
I also think that it isn't that often that you get to work with such wonderful friendly people so that is definitely a reason to recommend it.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Shepreth Wildlife Park?
Be prepared to do anything in the role. Don't expect if you are going to do a zoo keeper placement for examples that all you will be doing is playing with animals. Take the bad with the good and the experience will be amazing.
Also show lots of enthusiasm at the interview, they want to know you really want to be there and not just because you are being told to.
Research is so important, find out as much as you can about the company, history, staff etc so that you can talk passionately about it in the interview.
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