Meet the team: keeper, Amy
Published: Aug 24, 2018Get to know our Living Coasts team...
Amy has been part of the Living Coasts team from the very beginning, when we opened in 2003.
She spent two years volunteering at an animal sanctuary that took in exotic species before her sister (who worked at our sister site Paignton Zoo as a bird keeper) told her about a new zoo and aquarium due to open, Living Coasts.
“I didn’t just want to work with animals, I wanted to do more and share my passion and interest with others,” Amy explains. Having completed a national diploma in animal care and courses in zoo animal management and breeding management, Amy is constantly learning new techniques and expanding her knowledge.
She works with a range of species, from penguin to pipefish and otter to octopus. Her firm favourites are the Inca terns: “They are unique, specialised and there is nothing else similar here.”
A typical day for Amy starts with cleaning enclosures and feeding the animals. After that, the kitchen needs to be cleaned and more food preparation needs to be done as well as helping with public talks and feeds. The afternoon consists of more cleaning, feeding and record keeping.
As a keeper, Amy gets to know the animals she works with well and have some amazing experiences: "On my first day back from maternity leave, I went down to see one of our seals, Grace, who was pregnant. She instantly came up and rested her head on my lap. Animals do distinguish different people and you build a bond with them. It’s not just about a yellow bucket full of food. You can really tell with the seals how they act differently with different people."
Passionate about conservation, Amy told us: "Without zoos, a lot of these species would be dying out, and without having the species on show, people wouldn’t visit Living Coasts and engage with them. Conservation, husbandry techniques, research and education would be very limited without zoos."
“I want these animals to be around for my little boy to see. I don’t want to see them wiped out by irresponsible behaviour. Every little thing counts. Small things make a big difference, from picking up litter to being conscious about buying plastics, even if it’s buying fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging.”
Dedicated to her work, Amy has been managing the European Stud Book (ESB) for Inca terns for 8 years. This is a voluntary role that involves managing the captive population of the species throughout Europe. “I manage which facilities Inca terns go to and suggest transfers for genetic breeding reasons as they are a Near Threatened species.” This is a vital role, helping to ensure the future of the species - Amy finds it incredibly rewarding, knowing she is going that extra mile to protect a species.