Ferrets Shadow, Storm and Smokie are enjoying a winter workout in the Discovery Centre, thanks to a creative student’s handiwork as part of a pioneering programme.
The three brothers, aged five, love exploring a cardboard construction made for them by Dudley College student Abi-May Hanaphy, who has been on work placement in the education block.
The 18-year-old second year Level 3 Animal Management student built the cardboard structure as an enrichment exercise for the furry creatures.
DZG Presenter Pam Midwood pictured above with Abi-May said the ferrets needed additional exercise in the winter months as there were not so many Little Zoo Keepers or birthday party guests for them to meet.
She said: “It’s particularly important at this time of year to give the ferrets plenty of time to play and run around.
“They really liked the structure that Abi-May put together. Ferrets are naturally nosey and are very keen on enrichment exercises.”
Abi-May said: “It’s great to be able to come here as it gives me a real perspective on what being a zoo keeper is all about.
“You get to do such a variety of work including cleaning, preparing food and feeding as well as chance to quiz the keepers too.”
DZG formed the partnership with Dudley College four years ago when The Broadway campus ran Level 2 and 3 courses in Animal Management.
Curator Matt Lewis said: “We were the first zoo to set up such a programme with a neighbouring college and it has proved a success. Each year DZG provides work placements to give students practical experience.
“This academic year we will have between 60 and 80 students on site gaining hands-on experience of what being a zoo keeper involves.
“The work placement programme works really well. Students each get up to three days behind the scenes with us which gives them a real snapshot of the whole role.”