Laura Robbins started as a trainee zoo keeper at DZG on her sixteenth birthday. Seven years on Senior Keeper Laura says working with some of the world’s rarest species is still her dream job but forget the glamour, it’s hard work . . .
Describe a typical day’s work
I work with ungulates that’s hoofed stock and big cats. In a typical day I will clean several animal enclosures, carry out a huge amount of food preparation and provide enrichment for animals in my care. I will also be responsible for daily checks on each species to make sure they’re all healthy and happy.
How did you get your job?
I had been a regular visitor to the zoo for several years and was also a season ticket holder, adopter and volunteer during that time. I always knew I wanted to work at DZG from an early age and started as a trainee keeper on my 16th birthday it was the best birthday ever! I started as a student in Animal Care NVQ level 2 then went on to a level 3. This was followed by an Animal Management course specifically designed for zoos. I adore all animals and have an absolute passion for them. I’ve always had pets at home so I have grown up with animals and also because we always had an annual season ticket I came to the zoo every weekend. I have always loved Dudley Zoological Gardens and it was my dream to work specifically there!
What’s the best thing about the job?
Seeing your animals on a daily basis is the most amazing thing how many people get greeted by a tiger? Arriving at work and finding you have a newborn healthy baby animal is one of the most rewarding experiences there can possibly be; you get so much back from the animals you work with so the whole job is the best bit!
Would you change anything about your job?
Nothing at all, I love the fact that I’m outdoors and that it’s a very physical job so it keeps you nice and fit! It would be perfect if no animal ever aged or got poorly.
What do your friends and family say about your job?
They love it! A lot of my friends are also my work colleagues it’s like a big family at DZG. My friends and family out of work think it’s great and are always waiting for the next piece of zoo news, but sometimes I must drive them mad with my animal talk!
What advice would you give to someone hoping to become a zoo keeper?
Get plenty of practical experience as this is essential it’s a very hands-on job. There are lots of animal courses out there, but it’s a much sought-after job. No two days are ever the same, but it is extremely hard work.
What do you hope to be doing in ten years time?
I hope to be doing pretty much the same as I’m doing now as it’s an amazing job, however, I would like to have seen each species of tapir and possibly have travelled to south America to see these animals in their natural habitat.