Most zoos, aquariums wildlife parks and sanctuaries have a host of wonderful people volunteering their time both in the day-to-day running of the site and in the field helping with conservation.
Many of these volunteer programs have developed heartfelt and innovative initiatives to make the most of the valuable time their volunteers put in.
Enriching the lives of Alexandra Park Zoo animals was on the agenda for a group of six locals as they participated in a new volunteer program. The group, a respite organisation for people witha disability, made the trip to the zoo to lend a helping hand to staff by creating enrichment items for the animals and assisting with food preparation.
The items they craft help to encourage the animals’ natural behaviours and support positive welfare. For the program’s participants, aged 17 to 40 years old, it provides opportunities to be involved in the community, learn new skills and make new friends.
Another zoo recognising the potential of volunteers with a disability is Taronga Zoo Sydney, who nominated their former Sky Safari Volunteer Andrew Lindsay for 2018 NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards. He has already taken out the award for Young Volunteer – Mid Western Sydney Region and will go through to the state awards in November.
Andrew was Taronga’s first Ski Safari volunteer and was so successful that he has since been employed as a casual. His manager said, “Andrew has helped our team to understand how to make volunteering more accessible for people with autism, increasing our ability to be a diverse and inclusive volunteer organisation.”
At Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, some of their animal patients need an airport pick up when they come in from various mine sites all over WA. Kanyana’s dedicated transport team, led by Pearl Kellar, provides a lift to these animals any time of day or night.
This includes their transport volunteers, who help transfer patients to other centres, take them back to the airport for the ride home, pick up from local vets and to occasionally release patients. They’ve also been known to pick up overseas volunteers coming to stay and work at Kanyana. The patients range from kangaroo joeys to birds of prey and even swans.
At Adelaide Zoo, their volunteer guides have been undertaking “Storyvolution” training on how to create presentations that engage visitors and connect through storytelling. Working on the IUCN Love not Loss campaign, they are crafting stories that acknowledge the Loss but Emphasis the Love. As Engagement is one of their Zoo values they hope by providing storytelling in their commentary they can motivate visitors to act and become their conservation connection to nature.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary have a large team of almost 500 volunteers and many that have been with the sanctuary for a long time. They run three volunteer programs: the Wildlife and Horticulture Program, the Hospital Program and the Park (guest relations) Program. To recognise their dedicated team, they have a monthly volunteer recognition program, the Eagle Award.
Some winners of the Eagle Award for Volunteers at Currumbin are: