I started at Paignton Zoo as a volunteer just over three years ago. I’ve volunteered in a variety of roles on a variety of days. I currently do food prep and Lemur Wood on a Wednesday.

My day starts around 9.00am with a visit to the Ape Centre. I help prepare food for the 44 primates that live between here and the main entrance. They range from the smallest 150-gram pygmy marmoset to the largest 216-kilo gorilla!

All these amazing and varied animals have a very healthy diet. It consists of delicious leafy green veg such as cabbage, kale and lettuce, alongside tasty colourful veg such as beetroot, carrots, peppers and sweet potatoes. And not forgetting the sweet treats of sweetcorn or tomatoes.

Occasionally, there may also be an extra-special treat of a baked potato for them to enjoy. As well as a wide selection of vegetables, the animals receive a mixture of pulses, insects, pellet and gum, depending on their nutritional needs. I chop and weigh all the food - it comes to a grand total of 54.349 kilos each day!

After that, I take a nice little stroll down to Lemur Woods and spend the afternoon as a volunteer Lemur Warden. This involves myself, fellow volunteers and staff all keeping an eye on the lemurs that have been let out to explore their woodland enclosure, whilst also talking to guests and answering questions about the animals. We also have fun trying to point them out to guests - it can be quite tricky if they have decided to climb to the top of a leafy tree on a bright summer’s day to curl up for a nap!

Shiralee Martin, volunteer

Quotes An awesome experience. The amount of free space given to the animals was very impressive Quotes