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Volunteer Spotlight: Kimberley Kneil

To celebrate Volunteers’ Week, we are showcasing some of the incredible volunteers we have at Paignton Zoo, by chatting with them and finding out more about the crucial roles they play in supporting our charity.

Today, we’ve caught up with engagement volunteer Kim Kneil, who generously donates time out of each week speaking to our visitors and answering any questions they may have.

Can you tell us about your role as a volunteer at the zoo?

“I am an engagement volunteer and my role is to make the guests’ visit to the zoo even better by providing information on their favourite animals, being a friendly face, and helping out any other way I can should they need assistance. “

Can you share a memorable experience or story from your time volunteering?

“My favourite times of the year at the zoo are Halloween and Christmas, because I love to dress up and help with the wonderful events we put on for families. One of my favourites memories in my six and a half years here was monitoring Khaleesi, our female Komodo dragon when she arrived from Barcelona. She has since moved to London Zoo as part of the breeding programme, but I still miss her very much.”

Komodo dragon Khaleesi at Paignton Zoo

What does a typical day look like for you as a volunteer?

“Arriving and saying good morning to the lovely staff after signing in and picking up my radio… Checking in on Education, to see if there are any updates within the zoo we should know about when interacting with our visitors… Making my way around the zoo, always taking a different route from the day before, and engaging with visitors during their visit that day… My most knowledgeable areas are anything regarding reptilians & invertebrates, as I own a collection at home and have been in the hobby for 14 years… And the all important tea break!”

240604 PZ Kim Kneil Volunteer LR BC 06 scaled e1717424603229

What advice would you give to someone considering volunteering at the zoo?

“The engagement role in particular, has been made extremely flexible over the past couple year’s,  so please don’t think that you have to do long hours & be present every single week. The role will build your confidence in many areas & you do not have to feel the need to learn every fact on every animal.  It could be that the primates are your favourite and you could spend a few hours in the ape centre during your shift, or if you just love nature & like a good chat about the seasonal flowers, then the botanical gardens could be right up your street. Whatever you fancy, this opportunity can give you a new lease of life, more steps to add to your daily fit app and brand new friends to create memories, whether two, four or eight legged!”

Big Help Out

On Sunday 9 June 2024, Paignton Zoo will be hosting a volunteer recruitment fair on the lawn outside the Island Restaurant between 10am and 3pm.

You will be able to find out more about some of the amazing volunteering opportunities we offer from the current volunteers team.