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Landed my dream job: safari park keeper

Olivia Monaghan with a black and white ruffled lemur

Olivia Monaghan

The three years I spent at ARU were the best of my life. As well as meeting my best friends (and my lovely boyfriend), I developed skills that have helped my employability enormously.

I learnt so many things within the degree that will help me during my zoo career such as welfare, legislation, nutrition, enclosures, enrichment, the list could go on forever! Through utilising ARU Temps (the on-campus employment agency) and developing my jobs as a student and digital ambassador, I learnt how to speak to large audiences confidently and create content about my course, too.

However, I would argue the most important thing I learnt was to always be yourself. I have previously altered my personality slightly to “fit in” but at ARU there was no need! I found people who were on my wavelength, and it was such a breath of fresh air.

A skill I did not expect to develop extensively was my confidence. I grew the confidence and the ability to say no. Another skill I did not expect to develop was identifying opportunities. I realised through my time at ARU, working with ARU Temps and volunteering at Shepreth Wildlife Park how often opportunities arise. I noticed opportunities and grabbed everything I could to develop my CV which has worked wonders as I now work at my dream job at Woburn Safari Park!

I’ve now been renewed for another season at Woburn due to my ‘outstanding animal welfare and husbandry’. I love being a keeper as it really does bring me so much joy providing such beautiful and charismatic animals like Broom, the black and white ruffed lemur, or Mali, the red panda, with attentiveness, fun, yet sometimes challenging, enrichment, and the best husbandry I can.

I am provided with a multitude of opportunities that continue to expand my skills and knowledge, and most recently, have been developing a training protocol for the park's Bennett's wallabies, which I am thoroughly enjoying. One of the most rewarding aspects of being a keeper, aside from looking after incredible animals, educating the public on these animals and the importance of good zoos, and being involved in ex-situ conservation, is being involved in a world-wide community of other keepers, all of whom provide one another with advice, enrichment ideas, support and knowledge. All I can say is I have the best job in the world! Thanks to ARU - make the most of every opportunity offered to you!

Olivia studied BSc (Hons) Zoology at ARU. If you're interested in pursuing a career in a life science, come along to one of our Open Days and explore your options.