Isobel Hockaday 2 1 1004x360 - Apprentices are no monkey business for Newquay Zoo

Apprentices are no monkey business for Newquay Zoo

Animal magic is part of the course for Isobel Hockaday (above) and Megan Hing (below) – they are both working towards a Keeping and Aquarist apprenticeship at Newquay Zoo in Cornwall.

Megan, 26, and Isobel, 24, help to look after a wide range of mammals and birds at the attraction, which is run by the Wild Planet Trust charity.

The apprentices’ day-to-day work across the zoo’s enclosures, including the Tropical House and Monkey Walk, gives them practical experience, while coursework builds on what they’ve learned.

“I was really excited at the idea of learning and doing the job at the same time,” said Isobel (pictured above). “Being able to have a work life balance at the same time as doing the course is great.

“I’d love to be kept on here full time after the apprenticeship is over,” she added, explaining how much she’s learning about zookeeping, as well as boosting her time management and organisational skills. “I’d really like to further my career in the zoopkeeping profession.”

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Megan Hing

Both Isobel and Megan are doing their apprenticeships through Capel Manor in London, a specialist environmental college. The coursework is run through online teaching sessions and then the apprentices put what they have learnt into practice at Newquay Zoo.

“It gives you that extra knowledge you need behind you to do your job,” said Megan, a cover keeper for two years before starting her apprenticeship with Isobel six months ago. “It’s nice being able to learn on the job as well as studying – but it’s not too much studying because we work full time as well, so it’s a nice balance,” she added.

Team leader Dave Rich (below) says Megan and Isobel are already showing huge promise, fast becoming key members of Newquay Zoo’s team of keepers.

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Dave Rich

“They’re great,” says Dave. “Interacting with them and assessing their work on the theoretical side and the practical side is really rewarding. You can see how their enthusiasm builds from the knowledge they’re gaining from this apprenticeship scheme.”

Dave says the apprentices are bringing in fresh ideas and developing their skills by working alongside experienced keepers.

Having such a diverse workforce means the animals are well looked after and the zoo’s thousands of visitors have a great time.

“It’s a massively mutually beneficial scheme,” said Dave. “These young people have the opportunity to reach their potential in the organisation, but they also add experience, enthusiasm and longevity to their teams.

“I cannot speak highly enough of this apprenticeship scheme,” he added. “It really is the first stepping stone to what can be an amazing experience.

“The girls look like they’re on a good path to success and will hopefully go on to be really good keepers.”

Posted on 5th Apr 2022 | dca


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Darren Etherington, Production Director at Watson-Marlow

The value that the apprentices have added to our business has paid this back many times over

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