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Enjoy this brief interview with Nadia Gould who has been working at Paignton Zoo as a Trainee Keeper for the last 14 months. Discover how she got her dream role, why she loves her job so much and her favourite animals to work with.

Name - Nadia Gould

Position – Trainee Keeper

Time spent in zoos – 3 ½ years

Where – I have spent my whole time in zoos at Paignton Zoo, first volunteering for two years until a position became available; I have now been a trainee keeper for 14 months.

Why work with animals – I grew up around pets, in particular reptiles including chameleons, iguanas and snakes. I always had an inherent love for exotics and as I got older I knew I wanted to work with animals.

I worked on a game reserve for a couple of weeks in South Africa, working closely with the big five; this increased my passion for wanting to help wildlife and to make a difference in the lives of animals.

How did you get here – I started by a national diploma in animal management at Bicton college, then continued onto a foundation degree in animal science.

After this I started an internship within the Education Department at Paignton Zoo and then began volunteering on the Mammal Department to work more closely with the animals.

Finally, 14 months ago I got a job as a trainee keeper on the large mammals section, transferring to the primates two months ago.

Favourite animal – This is a really hard question as I have lots to choose from and can never make my mind up. I like the gorillas, gibbons, mandrills and swamp monkeys.

Why – I love all these animals in slightly different ways, but it’s mainly due to their individual personalities, the social structures within the groups – and how can you not love listening to the gibbons sing every morning!

Favourite part of the Job – My favourite part of the job is that no two days are ever the same, but I also like walking around first thing in the morning and being greeted by the animals I care for. I also enjoy providing enrichment to the animals and watching them try to figure it out and play.

What do you work with – I work with primates, in particular, swamp monkeys, gibbons, mandrills, pygmy marmosets, howler monkeys, and squirrel monkeys.

What is your daily routine - I start work at 8.00am, beginning with a daily briefing with the other keepers, then I look at the day’s schedule for any important events and go out to check the animals under my care. I then feed and clean everything until lunch; the rest of the day is spent making enrichment, collecting browse, doing maintenance jobs and afternoon feeds, ending the day with final checks and lock up.

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