Banham zoo opened to the public in 1968 and is one of Norfolk's premier tourist attractions, pulling in around 250,000 visitors each year.
Starting out with a only single groundskeeper and housing a collection of parrots and pheasants, the zoo's 50 acres of parkland is now home to more than 120 species - approximately 3,000 animals (including those from 5 critically endangered and 16 endangered species) cared for by a team of 21 keepers.
The park is operated by the Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA), whose aim is to secure the long-term futures for both Banham Zoo and Kessingland's 'Africa Alive' in Suffolk, which was purchased in 1991. ZSEA also strives to advance both of the parks roles in wildlife and environment conservation, animal welfare and offers various education programmes and research opportunities.
The dedication and passion of our staff is mirrored in our 40-strong team of volunteers. It is impossible to say who a 'typical' volunteer would be as we have such a variety! Our youngest volunteer is 18, and our oldest, 78! Some are students, people with other jobs, many are retired and some have young families - but what brings them all together is the desire to do something that little bit different with their free time and help us in this important work.
In order to increase the number of conservation projects which we can support both in the zoo and externally we have opened our own charity shop. Volunteers with great people skills are needed to help run this exciting venture on a day to day basis.
We are also looking for outgoing, creative people to assist the Activities & Education team with their day to day work. Volunteers will have the opportunity to help the Education staff with their varied duties which include: animal husbandry, animal handling, face painting, visitor interaction, helping out during theme weeks, discovery sessions and birthday parties. Due to the varied nature of the tasks a flexible and adaptable attitude is essential to make this role a success.
Volunteers for Zoo Animal Management (ZAM) will have the opportunity to assist the team with their varied duties. These include the upkeep of animal enclosures and surrounding areas, preparation of animal diets as well as manning our immersive exhibits, such as our lemur walkthrough. This is a physically demanding role with volunteers having the opportunity to really their hands dirty, though we do have a hands off policy for most of our animals.
There are also opportunities for volunteers to help in the work of our gardens department. If you are a professional, a keen amateur or just someone who likes to be outdoors you could be a great addition to the team!
Work Experience, Education Placements and Vacancies
For the right person with the right passion, the job of a zoo animal keeper is very rewarding - though as you might expect it will involve physical work in all kinds of weather! The real rewards for this type of work are not necessarily reflected in high salaries, but rather the satisfaction that you're making a vital contribution to the conservation of our natural world.
We take work experience students studying at Level 3 (National Diploma, A levels) or higher for an animal-related career course. We offer block placements on week days (Mon-Fri for a minimum of two weeks) or day-release placements on a weekend day (either Sat or Sun for a minimum of 10 placement days up to a maximum of 30 placement days).
Common sense and awareness are key both for monitoring the health and well-being of the animals in your care, and for an awareness of your surroundings for the safety of the animals, yourself and our guests. It also important to be able to work both as a supportive team member as well as independently, to understand instructions and communicate effectively. You will benefit from a good knowledge of animals and a will to listen and learn from others with more experience. And finally, the ability to interact and engage with our guests is a very important skill to develop.
If you are interested in a work experience placement with us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can check availability and send you our application form, or if you are interested in a placement with our Education Department and are studying a B.Ed. or a PGCE, please email our Head of Education: Sara Goatcher at email@example.com
Actual vacancies are always listed on our website, but don't forget to check out our posts and opportunities here on icanbea!