Drusillas Park

Blog: My Apprenticeship Story

Posted: 19th April, 2023

Morgan McGregor, Drusillas Park & Sparsholt College, writes about the value of being an apprentice zookeeper:

Since I was a child, my house has been teeming with animals that needed rehoming. Throughout my education, I tried to get as much volunteering and work experience as possible to help guide me to career of working with animals. Zookeeping was always on my mind, but I understood that the industry was competitive, and I was unsure of how to get into it. After completing my Animal Management Diploma at Plumpton College in 2020, I decided to stay at Plumpton to study an Animal Behaviour and Conservation degree. I started volunteering at Drusillas in June 2021 to support my degree and learning.

However, at the end of July 2021, Drusillas advertised the apprenticeship role. I jumped at the opportunity! I understood that animal related jobs were competitive, so I thought the process of CV application and the interview would offer experience, even if I did not get the position. I was lucky enough to get the zookeeper apprentice role at Drusillas and started my learning with Sparsholt College at the end of August 2021.

Apprenticeships are something that I had heard of but did not know much about them or if I would suit one. But having been at Drusillas as an apprentice, I would highly recommend it. Not only have I gained hands-on experience with exotic animals, but I also work with members of the public which has helped me to gain confidence. This paired with the great learning experience from Sparsholt College has been useful. Sparsholt College sets weekly tasks that are assessed by industry experts from various collections. While the work is set online, we do meet once every few weeks in person. I thought working long distance would be difficult as it requires self-discipline to do the work, but it allows me to have discussions about topics with the keepers at Drusillas; and the industry experts and teachers at Sparsholt are always happy to help me if I am struggling.

Learning while working has taught me so much about the role of a zookeeper. With the support from Drusillas and Sparsholt, my confidence has grown! I am now trained on a section and care for a range of species as well as being trained on two different animal encounters where I interact with the public.

I attended my first ABWAK symposium in March 2022 and have since attended ABWAK’s Flamingo workshop, Red panda workshop and Macropod workshop. These are things I would not have the confidence to do before. After each workshop I feel so inspired with new ideas and knowledge from other keepers and collections.

I have learnt so much in my apprenticeship, each module has a different industry expert that share their experiences and knowledge. Working alongside experienced keepers at Drusillas has given me the opportunity to ask questions and really understand what it is like to be a keeper. Additionally, learning in depth about the species on my section and learning the animals as individuals, especially the naughty ones has been great fun!

I would love to continue being a zookeeper as I enjoy being outside, creating enrichment and getting to know different animals. It has been inspiring to attend workshops and conferences; I look forward to continuing to do so to help further my learning!

Morgan McGregor
Drusillas Park & Sparsholt College

All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not a reflection of BIAZA's positions. 

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