If you say my ‘What I Got For My 21st Birthday‘ post, you’ll know I received a ‘Keeper for the Day’ experience from my auntie and cousins. The experience was at Askham Bryan Conservation and Wildlife Park. This is just down the road for me, so a great location.
I arrived at 10am with my waterproof and walking boots, eager to start my participation as a keeper for the day. I was greeted by a lovely lady called Kate, who I’d be shadowing for the day. She talked me through the day, with a little bit of obvious health and safety before heading onto the first section.
Armadillos, Tenrecs, Sugar-Gliders and more!
The first stop of the day was the ‘Wildlife of the World’ corridor. I was here to feed the armadillos. I underestimated how much I’d love the armadillos, and these ended up being my highlight of the whole day. There are six (if I remember rightly) armadillos at Askham Bryan; one male, one female, and their young. They were friendly and liked my shoelaces a little too much!
Next up was the sugar-gliders, chinchillas, and tenrecs. Fortunately for me, the other keepers had offered to clean out all the animals, so I got the fun job of feeding them all. I was a little apprehensive about walking into a small dark area to feed the sugar-gliders, knowing they’d be jumping around but once I got in there and saw how cute they were that feeling went completely. I’d never seen or heard of sugar-gliders before, and Kate was on hand to fill me in with lots of information about them which was great. Tenrecs are little hedgehog looking creatures, despite being in no way related to them. The one I held was scurrying all over me. I didn’t get to see much of the chinchillas, as they were up high and fast asleep. But, I was surprised but how large they were.
Reptiles of the World
We then headed into one of the back rooms where all the reptiles are kept. I got the opportunity to handle a variety of reptiles including snakes, geckos, and lizards. My favourite had to be the blue-tongued skink, he was heavier but softer than I imagined and he was so chilled out sat in my arms. After this, I headed for my lunch break. I grabbed a cold drink and cookie from the on-site cafe and gave mum a quick call to let her know how I’d been getting on so far.
The Primate Zone and the Common Marmosets
After lunch, we headed to the common marmosets. At this point of the day, there were lots of feeding talks going on at the park. So, as I fed the animals the public was watching whilst being told lots of interesting facts about the species. Their feed was fruit-based, with a sugar-gum extract which I spread along the high-beams for them to climb to. One of the little marmosets also took some from the spoon which was so cute.
The Park’s Famous Wallabies
Next, it was lunchtime for the wallabies. I’d previously seen wallabies at Yorkshire Wildlife Park where you can get up close to them. These wallabies were having none of it and wouldn’t come near me. As you can tell in the photo below! Either way, they’re super cute and I loved seeing them bouncing around! Kate told me that they never planned their first wallaby arrival. Now called Wesley, he was found roaming the local area and made it into the press. So became a bit of a local celebrity! After the wallabies, we went to feed the raccoons-dogs which is a species I’d never heard of before. They were really shy but again super cute. I fed them a variety of fruit and vegetables along with some crickets.
The last stop of the day was the lemurs. I underestimated how much I’d enjoy feeding the lemurs. They’re such little characters and love their food. They were jumping all over me, eager to get the food in the bowl, especially the sweet potato. I now see why they are a part of the park’s ‘cheeky critters’ zone. The park has three ring-tailed lemurs, who live with their black and collared lemurs.
Then it was the end of the day unfortunately. I got my certificate and little badge to symbolise my completion of my keeper for the day experience, and said my thanks and goodbyes to Kate. I was then allowed to venture around the park to see areas I hadn’t yet visited like the meerkats, sulcata tortoises and birds of the world before heading home. Also, before I finish this post I have to give a huge shoutout to Kate who was a great partner for the day, had so much to tell about the park and animals and just made the experience even better!
What’s your favourite animal out of the ones I got to look after? and have you ever done a keeper for the day experience?
Have you read my previous post? – Iceland Travel Diary – Day 2: The Golden Circle