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BECCI APELGREN

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ANIMAL KEEPER

Working at the park is a dream come true. Ever since I can remember I've had a love for animals. Animals of various shapes and sizes were a big part in my life growing up, a gorgeous little hen being my very first pet at the age of 3.

I always found myself spending most of my time with friends on their farms helping out with their family's livestock. I could barely wait for the weekends to get stuck in with the various jobs I got to help out with from lambing, mucking out and riding.

My love for animals grew and developed into a passion for wildlife conservation and our environment. So, after spending some time travelling in Asia and spending 4 months in the French Alps completing my snowboard instructor course I decided to go to University to study Environmental Science.

A couple of years after graduating from University I found myself on the Isle of Wight following my parents move here a few years earlier. I have always wanted to work with animals and the idea of becoming a zoo keeper became more and more exciting and something I really started to strive for. When the position here at Seaview Wildlife Encounter came up in February 2012 I jumped at the chance.

I am incredibly happy to be working here at the park with the various animals we look after, and of course the amazing people I work alongside from day to day. It's a dream job and the experiences are never ending. I'm currently also volunteering at the Isle of Wight bat hospital and studying for a Diploma in Zoo Animal care, Welfare and Behaviour.

WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE

My role involves all aspects of animal husbandry here at the park. The keepers move around the sections within the park so we get to work with all of the animals. Being a keeper also involves interacting with our visitors and providing them with information about the different species within the collection through public feeding time talks and also on a one on one basis. I conduct VIP Wildlife encounters for people of various ages who come to meet some of the animals on a more close up personal level.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE PARK AND WHY

I have always been a big fan of the seaside and the park is situated in a beautiful location overlooking the Solent, it is lovely to be able to see the sea from most parts of the park. The park is also very open and spacious for both our animals and the visitors.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE ANIMAL OR BIRD AT THE PARK AND WHY

They are all wonderful creatures but of course we all have our favourites. I think mine are a couple of our penguins, some of the cheeky parrots and the very mischievous otter brothers. They all have great little characters.

WHAT'S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB

Having the opportunity to work with and look after an array of different species from various places around the world. I also thoroughly enjoy working outdoors.

WHAT MAKES A GOOD KEEPER

Foremost a good keeper has the animals best interest at heart, this involves knowing the animals behaviour well and what is a happy and healthy animal and being able to provide the animals with a suitable environment. A good keepers needs to vigilant, have an eye for detail, be physically fit, be patient and hard working. Besides this it is important you have knowledge regarding animal husbandry and the animals in your care, enjoy learning constantly, and being prepared to occasionally get a scratch, bite or a bruise here or there.

WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK

I'm an active person so in my spare time I like to go walking, running and cycling. I also enjoy snowboarding and surfing when I get the chance. I have my cat Maurice and I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I love to travel and learn about other cultures.

WHAT'S YOUR TOP TIP FOR VISITORS

Make sure you bring your camera! There are plenty of great photo opportunities. Give yourself a day at the park, there are things going on through the day from the word go! Don't miss the fun interactive feeding times and remember to stop off at the cafe and gift shop - lovely food and drink!