Be a Keeper for a Day!

If you want to get up close to a big cat, monkeys, lemurs or birds of prey then the Isle of Wight has many options. You can become a keeper for a day, or have an ‘experience’ with your birds or animals of choice. Here are our top three ideas for really getting involved with the keepers and habits of a selection of wild animals.

Big Cats and Lemurs

Be a Junior Keeper for the day at the Isle of Wight Zoo.  Perfect for the budding future animal career, these three hour junior keeper experiences give youngsters aged between 8 and 16 years an ideal opportunity to find out just what it takes to become a zoo keeper. Each child does have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian throughout the experience and that person will be able to take photographs, but is not permitted to take part in the activities. 

On the other hand you can take a Big Cat or Lemur Experience, which last around 30 minutes and guarantee that you get up close and personal with the animal of your choice. The big cat keepers take you on an exciting private tour behind the scenes to meet some of their lions, tigers and other big cats up close. You get to learn about their majestic animals, and to hear about their individual personalities and stories. Or you can opt for a memorable encounter with their ring tailed lemurs, learning how to interact with these fascinating animals, who will do their best to pick your pockets and climb over you in their search for food. 

We love the tigers and there are four new ones, saved from circuses where they were mistreated. Have you ever heard a tiger purr? You probably will on a Big Cat Experience.

Monkey Magic

At the Monkey Haven you really can be a keeper for a whole day, from 9.30am till 3pm and you’ll join their team of animal keepers to help look after the primates and birds of prey. You will get to work alongside an experienced keeper all day, prepare the animal feed and hand feed some of their primates. You also join in with helping to clean out the enclosures, you enjoy encounters with those animals and you assist with the keeper talks and feeds. You even get a free lunch in the Haven’s café included in the price.At the end of the day you will be presented with a certificate and digital photos on a souvenir memory stick. Get in touch to book your special day.

Falconry for Beginners

Two of the Island’s falconers offer birds of prey experiences, where you get to ‘fly’ their birds and learn about each bird’s particular characteristics, speed capabilities and hunting habits. The 'Birds of Prey Experience' with Haven Falconry at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway is for at least one hour and starts by meeting the Falconer and the birds. Then you meet a selection of the hawks, falcons and owls after learning about them you will have the chance to fly some of them to your gloved hand, under the watchful eye of the Falconer. 

At South Coast Falconry, at Robin Hill Country Park, the ‘Birds of Prey Experience’ introduces you all of the birds and you get to hold and fly up to five birds, from across the range of owls, hawks, falcons, a buzzard and even a vulture.  Again your experience will last around an hour and you’ll get plenty of photo opportunities to see ‘your’ birds flying down through the valley and across the fields and back to your gloved hand.

All of these experiences make great memories, especially on family holidays, and wonderful photo opportunities. Give a voucher for one of these as a gift and you’ll be very popular!

Jo Macaulay

30 August 2018

By Jo Macaulay in Articles