Dudley College’s Animal Management students have been having a wild time at DZG.
For the last six months, 112 students have been spending week-long placements on site, shadowing Dudley Zoo keepers and getting hands-on experience while working on Farm, Birds, Ungulates, Primates and Education.
DZG Presenter, Becky Iwahashi, said: “This partnership, which we believe is the first of its kind in the country, is a great opportunity for the students to gain invaluable experience and shows them how much hard work goes on at a zoo. It’s not just about cuddling animals all day long.”
“We’ve been welcoming eight students a day who get to work with staff on two different sections each week, while we, alongside their tutors, assess their performance, punctuality and attitude towards the job.”
Every day students helped staff clean enclosures, prepare food and discovered what it really takes to be a zoo keeper, as well as undertaking animal care training to handle small mammals, reptiles and invertebrates.
Some had the chance to participate in daily animal talks, while others even had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness a rare Rothschild’s giraffe give birth following the arrival of baby Kito to mum, Mia.
DZG Curator, Matt Lewis, said: “We have been working with Dudley College’s Animal Management students for the past two years and have welcomed more than 200 students on site and it’s worked really well.
“We get to know the students as the weeks progress, many of whom have been season ticket holders or long-term adopters of DZG animals over the years and we’ve given full time employment to a couple of them, so it’s certainly been worth their while to persevere with the course and it’s great for us to employ local people.
“Not every college has a facility like DZG on their doorstep and we’re delighted the partnership is going from strength to strength.”
Second year Animal Management student, Laura Evans, 18, of Wednesbury, said: “It’s been a really good experience. I definitely want to go into zoo keeping, so being given the opportunity to work on different sections has allowed me a real understanding of what goes on. It’s also made me more determined to do this job.”
Eighteen-year-old Savannah Keane, from Dudley, added: “It’s been great. I’ve loved working here, especially helping feed the penguins and it’s made me realise I definitely want to continue working with animals, but I haven’t decided in what way yet.”
CAPTION: TOP: Savannah Keane, aged 18, from Dudley, helps Keeper, Luke Millar, feed the aviary birds.
MIDDLE: Jessica Hill, aged 18, from Walsall, gets hands-on experience with Lemur Wood’s Black and white ruffed lemurs, with Trainee Keeper, Erin Kilmurray – a former Animal Management student.
BOTTOM: Laura Evans, aged 18, from Wednesbury, helps Presenter Becky Iwahashi, gets to grips with a ferret in the Discovery Centre.