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The month of October certainly keeps the team at the AWCP on its toes. Any month that begins with World Animal Day and ends with Halloween, will always be a hit with an Animal Keeper! The month kicks off with World Animal Day on the 4th of this month, closely followed by World Habitats Day. In the first year of the UN’s Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, this celebration of the worlds habitats is more poignant than ever. 

Just eight days later and the AWCP and many of Gibraltar’s schools will be celebrating JUST ONE Tree day on the 15th October. The AWCP’s charity, WildACT have recently partnered with JUST ONE Tree, helping to raise funds for tree planting and habitat restoration in Madagascar, one of the AWCP’s key conservation focus areas. Madagascar is home to 107 (and counting) species of lemurs, of which a shocking 103 are threatened with extinction. Protecting and regenerating habitats is crucial if these species are to be saved in the wild. 

If your child’s school hasn’t yet signed up for the JUST ONE Tree day, be sure to encourage them to do so. Just £1 will plant one tree in habitats all over the world. If you visit the park, you can also plant a tree each time you visit, by choosing JUST ONE Tree when you receive your ‘Wild Conservation Coin’ at the reception. £1 of each visitors entrance fee will now go to a conservation project of their choice. 

9am – Each month, the Zookeeper’s Diary goes behind the scenes at the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park, taking a look at the daily routines of the Keepers and the animals they care for. But animal husbandry is just the tip of the iceberg. Running a zoo, no matter how small, requires a wealth of skills, some you never imagined a zoo keeper would need. With such a small team; three Keepers, a Head Keeper and a Manager, multi-tasking is the name of the day, pretty much every day. Volunteers and Interns are a god-send to the small park, and allow the staff extra time to work on other projects and to develop other areas of the zoo. 

Shi Moran joined the zoo recently from Salford University, where he was studying Wildlife Conservation and Zoo Biology. Shi’s dream is to pursue a career working with marine species and sharks, but for now, he is just excited to be working with all the animals and staff at the AWCP. As an intern, Shi’s remit for the next few months will be to gain as much experience with the animals as he can while at the AWCP.  After an intensive month of training, Shi is now a fully-fledged intern. Each intern at the AWCP receives an induction and a Volunteer Training Manual. Each week they aim to be trained in one section of the zoo, either by shadowing a keeper or with the training coordinator. Once the training coordinator and Park Manager decides they are up to scratch, they will be signed off for that section. This is invaluable experience for a fledgling zoo keeper. Zookeeping is a highly competitive industry requiring not only degree level education, but also experience working with a range of animals too. This can be tough for those starting out and the AWCP is keen to give each intern or volunteer as much exposure as possible.

12pm – After the morning animal husbandry routine is complete and the animals are fed and clean, staff and volunteers can turn their attention to other tasks. Before Shi decided he wanted to study animal management, he had been helping his granddad out with his Salford Carpentry business since as far back as he could remember, cultivating invaluable woodwork and carpentry skills that are always music to a small zoo’s ears. Since arriving in Gibraltar, Shi has been utilising these carpentry skills to help the Head Keeper, Steve Bryant and the other Keepers, to maintain areas of the zoo, from creating enrichment devices, to creating a platform for the bearded dragons summer house. Shi has also volunteered to take care of and organise the tool shed, making everyone’s lives far easier!

2pm – After lunch is a great time for the team to get together and plan for events and projects. At the end of October, the park will again be hosting a midterm week of Halloween fun. Most years this would be in the form of a one-day Open Day event, but with COVID19 still lingering and after the success of last year’s midterm week-long event, it seems to be the best formula for the times. Small groups of up to ten will join one of the ‘Zombie’ Zoo Keepers and Volunteers for a spooktacular tour of some of the creepiest animals, imparting ghoulish animal facts to the unfortunate victims. There will be prizes for fancy dress and other competitions, raffles and events running throughout the week.

To find out more about the AWCP Spooktacular ZooBoo Week, look out for information on the AWCP website: www.awcp.gi/events Facebook page or Instagram. Please note, this will be a ticketed event. Bookings can be made at www.buytickets.gi. Spaces are limited for get in there quick!

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