To celebrate the run up to International Women's Day on 8th March, BIAZA are sharing the stories and voices of women from across the BIAZA membership.
Today's blog is from Maxine Bradley, Zoo Curator at Northumberland Country Zoo.
Hi there, my name is Maxine and I am the Zoo Curator at Northumberland Zoo, a small family-run, not-for-profit zoo.
I only ever aspired to be a Zookeeper and started out my career at Chester Zoo while my parents were growing a menagerie back in Northumberland. They started with a field full of different breeds of chickens; but once people had seen one chicken, they had seen them all! My parents then started rehoming more exotic species like Meerkats and Raccoons. The council started requesting they get a Zoo license and the number of people coming to visit the extended chicken collection was growing! I left Chester and moved back up north to help out.
We had no intentions of ever having a Zoo. It was a happy accident where we now feel the duty to fill a gap in the Northeast of England where people can get inspired about wildlife conservation and sustainability. This year, we project that we will reach 100,000 visitors.
Our team now consists of 27 full-time members of staff and is growing! Even though my job title is Zoo Curator, I am also responsible for overseeing the development & planning of the site, our interpretation, conservation projects, social media & advertising, the animal section as well as ensuring that the visitor facilities are growing at the right speed! Managing a Zoo is much less about animals and mainly about people – it’s hard, it is also a lot like Zoo Tycoon.
I have learned so much in such a short space of time and my motto is that I can do anything I set my mind to and my parents have always been very encouraging. My dad, Brian, is very much a do-er and just cracks on building things despite anything and my mum, Linda, is the sensible one who keeps the finances as well as my dad and I in check!
This year we will be adding a critically endangered species to our collection in a purpose-built facility as well as expanding our Native Species conservation programmes in association with our local Rivers Trust, Environment Agency & Wildlife Trust. We have also just acquired an additional 35 acres of land to expand into.
Apart from all-things-zoo, I also draw wildlife art in my spare time, supplying ours and Chester Zoo’s gift shops with animal prints – it keeps me out of trouble.
The future is bright and Zoos collectively have an incredible mission to carry out for which I am proud to be a part of and very determined for Northumberland Zoo to make an impact. Joining BIAZA in 2021 was a great achievement for us and I look forward to meeting more members at conferences soon.
By Maxine Bradley, Northumberland Country Zoo.
All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not a reflection of BIAZA's positions.
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