Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 14°C

ESTD 1874 Search

The pigs have arrived. See the latest

Pigs Gone Wild

news here.

Gallery/Video: What does it take to become a zoo keeper? We found out during a day at Africa Alive

10:00 17 August 2014

James Marston meet Keeper, James Hall at Africa Alive and gets an idea of what it

James Marston meet Keeper, James Hall at Africa Alive and gets an idea of what it's like to work in a zoo. Inside the Kitchens preparing meals for some of the animals.

James Hall always wanted to be a zoo keeper. But his dream came true in ways even he had never imagined. James Marston reports.

Ever since he was small and saw some gorillas at Blackpool Zoo he’s been interested in looking after animals.

The 27-year-old said: “I am originally from the North East of England. I have always been interested in animals and always wanted to be a zookeeper.

“I got put off the idea because it is hard to get into so I did A levels and continued my education. My mum found out about a National Diploma in animal management which was taught quite close to where I was living. I studied for two years and at the end of it I applied to zoos all over the UK.”

James got an interview at Africa Alive in Kessingland.

He said: “I didn’t get the job initially but they called me after a couple of weeks and offered me a position. I moved to Oulton Broad and started work in 2006. When I was 19. I was lucky as it is a difficult job to get into.”

Now a cover keeper at Africa Alive, James started his career by learning different sections of the zoo.

He said: “My first section was farmyard which included looking after pygmy goats. I worked there for two to three months and then went to the primate section which included vervet monkeys and ringtail lemurs.”

After stints in the savannah section – addax, ostrich, zebra and blesbok – James went to work on the marsh section which includes lions, cheetah, water buffalo and ankole cattle.

He said: “I got an overview of all the different animals in the park so I gained experience on every area. I really enjoyed it.”

James also took a further qualification in zoo animal management and since 2011 James has been a cover keeper.

He said: “I don’t have a specific section. Each day I go wherever I am needed.”

His day starts at 8am

He said: “We usually get into work at about 7.30am. Every day is different but we start with a keepers meeting so we all know what we’re doing and what’s coming up that day.”

Each morning James and the other keepers check each enclosure, check the fences and check the animals are ok.

He said preparing the food – including meat for the carnivores – take place in the morning.

He said: “Each animal has a set diet sheet prepared specifically for them. Some animals have two or three feeds a day others have just one.

“After our morning break at about 9.30am we clean the enclosures until lunchtime. After lunch there is more cleaning or maybe a talk or feeding at 2pm.”

In the zebra enclosure James presents me with a shovel and I clear away some of the unmentionables left from the night before.

Administering some medicines as well as what is termed “enrichment” is also part of James’ responsibilities. He hands me an ostrich egg bound for the lion’s enclosure.

He said: “The lions will play with the egg for some time before they stand on it and crack it open and eat what’s inside. We also use melons and frozen blood – it keeps them active throughout the day.”

James and most of the team finish at around 5.30pm

He said: “There is a lot of cleaning but I really enjoy working with the exotic animals and seeing their behaviour up close. Each animal has a different character and characteristics. My favourite animals are the primates but I really enjoy looking after the lions as well.”

James said the seven strong pride of lions includes Jabu – the youngest of the male lions – one of James’ favourite animals.

He said: “He is rally playful and always comes over to see me. He is quite a character.”

As we walk round the 100 acre park James takes us to the newest arrival – a baby giraffe.

He said: “It is always exciting when a new animal is born.”

And as well as his love for the animals, James has found something else at Africa alive – his wife Emma.

The couple met in 2009 and now have a baby of their own.

Today Emma is manning the Lemur enclosure – an area where the public can walk through and observe the animal’s closely.

James said: “If you really want to be a zookeeper you’ve got to keep trying. You need to be hard working, have attention to detail and energetic. You’ve also got be able to talk to people as well. Its as much about engaging with the public as looking after the animals.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other East Anglian Daily Times visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by East Anglian Daily Times staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique East Anglian Daily Times account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Emma Young, assistant nurse at St Helena Hospice in Colchester.

Emma Young, whose version of Make you Feel My Love, penned by Bob Dylan and covered by Adele, went viral following a performance in front of parents and staff at St Helena Hospice has performed at Colchester’s Party in the Park.

Team manager Alf Ramsey and trainer Harold Sheperdson (standing) watch England's victory over Germany in the 1966 World Cup

On the 50th anniversary of his greatest triumph, we are today celebrating Sir Alf Ramsey, the man who inspired both Ipswich Town and England to extraordinary levels of success and glory.

Police have been called to a collision between a Ford Focus and a Ford Fiesta near to the Suffolk Ski Centre.

Samuel and Darren Noller at the Eiffel Tower, Paris

A father and son cycling duo raised more than £3,000 for a Suffolk charity helping women struggling with addiction.

Sir Stanley Rous

Sir Alf Ramsey wasn’t the only Suffolk knight to have a key role in the World Cup Final of 1966.

Spanish students, who stayed with host families in Woodbridge, pictured during one of their day trips to London

A long-standing cultural exchange bringing Spanish students to Suffolk each summer has “broadened horizons” for all involved.

Motorcyclist banned

A handyman has lost his driving licence after police saw him speeding on his motorbike while over the drug-drive limit.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24