Recently Volunteering Auckland sat down with Libby and Rebecca, two of our amazing Tuatara Club graduates, to speak about their experience volunteering at Auckland Zoo.

Our Tuatara Club is a way for teenagers (15-17 years old) to gain experience in caring for animals, interacting with the public and learning from our knowledgeable keepers.

Interview with Tuatara Club graduate, Libby Manning:

Why Volunteering at the Auckland Zoo?

A friend who had been a volunteer suggested it. I have always liked animals and thought it would be a fun experience.

I have helped with collecting for Guide Dogs as well. Next year I am doing a Zoology and Ecology degree at Otago University so thought it would be useful.

What do you do?

The Tuatara Club, which I first joined for 15-17 year olds, was for 6 months and was focussed around New Zealand animals and talking about behavioural enrichment. After 6 months we graduated and now have a more hands on role. We have a lot of people interaction, talking/ educating and guiding when necessary.

Each time we come we are assigned to various areas of the zoo and this gives us an opportunity to learn more about the different animals. They like us to do one day every 2 weeks although it is flexible, as we have a choice of days, either a Saturday or Sunday.

What would you say to others about volunteering?

It is definitely not a ‘no rewards’ experience. You have the opportunity to meet new people, it boosts your confidence (in talking with people) and you feel you are contributing. It is varied and definitely stops you staying at home all weekend.


Meet our Tuatara Club volunteers!

Interview with Tuatara Club graduate, Rebecca Smith:

Why volunteering at the Auckland Zoo?

I loved animals and wanted to help out with an organisation that is associated with animals and learn more about animal care. I found about the work on the Auckland Zoo website.

In the future I would like to become a future worker at the zoo – perhaps a Zoo keeper and work with the big cats.

This year I have been doing a ‘Certificate of Animal Care’ which is a 1 year course at Unitec. It looks at legally owned animals – their welfare, biology and the rules and regulations. I also do dog walking for a company and take a group of them to a park for socialisation skills.

What do you do?

I began volunteering at 16, in the Tuatara Group, every Saturday for 6 months. At first we learned about our own (NZ) native animals. Now I am a visitor assistant throughout the day, help with directions and talk about the animals. You also gain experience in the different sectors such as behavioural enrichment -  you are always learning.

Next year (2019) I hope to apply for a 6 month Zookeeper internship which would begin in October.

What would you say to others about volunteering?

I recommend it highly for what you get out of it. We are required to do a minimum of once a fortnight, but there is flexibility. You get to talk to others about animals – which is something that makes you and others happy

Of course, volunteering at the zoo is open to all ages! Learn more and become an Auckland Zoo volunteer here