Well I’ve had a bit of a week as far as volunteering goes. It started on Monday at “Winged Wonders” (Paignton Zoo's bird of prey display).  Alan, my husband who also volunteers at Paignton Zoo, and I spent half an hour cutting up the food for the birds, and although it was a fairly quiet school day we had three good shows, especially the second one where a group of enthusiastic school children swelled the audience to over 100.  Alan and I volunteer to assist the staff from the Devon Bird of Prey Centre as bird handlers for the show.  It is amazing being able to fly the owls and especially Sol, the Harris hawk, from the glove.

Tuesday was my original day for volunteering as a Visitor Experience Guide volunteer.  I met Naomi, a fellow V.E.G. volunteer, in the Volunteers’ Room and we headed off to Crocodile Swamp.  Being a V.E.G. volunteer enables you to talk to the visitors about the exhibits in certain areas and point out creatures they may have overlooked or cannot readily see.  When I started as a V.E.G. volunteer three years ago I had only a very limited knowledge of reptiles and lower invertebrates but, due to the support of the Zoo’s staff, regular meetings and comprehensive fact files, both my knowledge and confidence have grown.

This duty was cut short last week as the volunteers had been invited to a cream tea to celebrate Volunteers’ Week. We also heard talks about our ongoing conservation work in Africa and the Zoo’s forthcoming Great Big Rhino Project. It was a very pleasant afternoon; informative and nice to be able to catch up with fellow volunteers for a chat.  We were all thanked for our support as volunteers.

I was back in the Zoo again on Thursday in Animal Crackers, a fundraising hut, where even though the Zoo was not particularly busy I managed to raise £125 to boost the Zoo’s funds!

But I wasn’t finished there!  On Saturday I hopped on the bus from Totnes to Paignton where I eventually found the little green Paignton Zoo tent on the seafront and joined Roger and three staff from the Zoo's marketing depar, handing out flags and stickers to members of the public who were attending the first Torbay Air Show.  A great day out.

Is this unusual? Probably not as I also know that there are many other volunteers at the Zoo who volunteer for more than one day or volunteer duty or, on occasion, will provide extra time and support for events through their volunteering.  We love it and I know we get back as much as we give.

Who wouldn’t want to handle birds of prey, learn about and educate people about crocodiles, make money for charity and meet the public at outside events?

That is why I volunteer.

Liz Chisholm


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