As a Ranger at Durrell, we are here to ensure that the animals and visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience. We interact with the public, answer questions and make sure that the animals are not at risk from being fed by the public or being handled. We do not feed the animals and part of our role is to ensure that the public do not either. Also we make sure that visitors respect the animals and their environment. The safety and the wellbeing of the animals is our priority alongside the wellbeing of our visitors.
I have learnt a lot more about the animals, their needs and how endangered they are. As a spin off we have opportunities to volunteer for other events that go on here e.g. special days put on by the education department for children during holiday time. The recent Durrell challenge and then various events around the zoo. These opportunities are there for the taking and there is no pressure on you to take on extra roles but they are fun and interesting to be involved with. I have learnt and done things that I would never have expected to do.
I am so pleased at how much I enjoy it and look forward to my shifts. I wasn’t sure what the zoo keepers would reaction to us would be but they have been friendly and helpful and all the staff here are willing to answer our questions about the animals in their care. They really seem to like having us around and I hope we are seen as an asset.
The biggest myth I held was that you need to know lots of facts about the animals and to be able to answer all questions. Not true and we have helpful volunteer handbooks to refer to. Also, staff and fellow rangers are a great resource. We learn from each other. Most important thing is not to bluff and make up answers. I find the public appreciate honesty especially when you explain that you are a volunteer. Every shift I learn something new.
If anyone is thinking about volunteering, I would say “DO IT NOW. You will not regret it.”