Auckland Zoo is a fascinating and humanly social place and after volunteering there for 10 years, I would like to share some of my experiences with you.  I would also like to thank the Prestige Clean team and my husband and director Vick Sharma, who have shared my working responsibilities to enable me to be involved in what I enjoy doing the most.

I am Carol Sharma, one of the directors in the Prestige Clean Group.

I have always been passionate about animals and have always wanted to somehow contribute to their welfare. This is not just cutesy puppies and kittens, which of course I love but I am concerned about the place in the world of all animals and what is happening to their habitats. It is because of this, in 2006 I began volunteering at Auckland Zoo. After filling out and submitting an application form, having a successful interview and an induction, it was time for me to begin.

Auckland Zoo is a great organization owned by the general public and run by Auckland City Council, it’s managed by highly professional, caring people and a very diverse, vibrant place.

The general public may not be aware that there is the whole hidden world at Auckland Zoo, where a large team of people volunteer and work behind the scenes to help manage the welfare of the animals.

I was a general volunteer for the first two years, this role was varied and the tasks included: collecting grass which is separated into bags and distributed to the different areas where it is needed. The keeper will often use it to camouflage insects, so when the grass is given to the animals, they are encouraged to use natural foraging behaviour. Other jobs for volunteers are crowd control when visitors are lining up to feed the giraffes, cleaning windows, collecting leaves or manning tables which are set up around the zoo with information about the conservation of different animals. I enjoyed being at the zoo so much that I also began going for half a day on Wednesdays as well. I began working on the Primate Section doing what I would call being an assistant keeper. This involved lots and lots of cleaning and food preparation but enabled me to feel I was more involved. I did this for about 5 years but 1 ½ days at the zoo each week became too much and I had to drop it.

In 2008, I joined the primate behaviour enrichment team, in this role I stayed for the next 8 years. On a rotating monthly schedule, we prepared items for behaviour enrichment for the varied primates at Auckland Zoo.  A couple of these items were: sacks filled with leaves and a very small amount of MOT (Monkey Occupational Therapy – small pieces of dried fruit and popcorn) and/or rolled and knotted sheets also sprinkled with MOT and a splash of the essence (peppermint, almond or vanilla).   There were many more interesting items, they were thought of and prepared with the intention of keeping the animals stimulated and encouraging natural foraging behaviour.

I loved my time at the zoo, it felt great to be in my own way contributing to the animals. Much of the work that we did was outdoors and I looked forward to seeing my team each week.  After ten years it was time for a change and I, with reluctance left.

People have varied opinions of zoos. Some people might think that a zoo is all about caged animals. But this is not true, Auckland Zoo is an animal sanctuary with breeding programs for certain & endangered species. Some also believe there should be no zoos at all, in reality, that would be great. But that would only happen if all humans and animals could happily co-exist. Many animals are in zoos because in their natural habitat they are in danger from being killed by humans for their body parts. For others it is because humans are destroying their forest homes and they have nowhere else to go, in some cases, this is for palm oil plantations. It would be wonderful to think that all animals could live in a wild sanctuary where no humans can harm them but this is not the case.

For the staff who work in zoos, part of their role is to educate the public as to why these animals are there. It is not to ‘show them off’ it is to educate people to what is happening to them in their natural habitat.

We all have a responsibility and every business should have the responsibility to support good causes wherever possible. At Prestige Clean in our cleaning division, we try to source products without Palm Oil.

I also suggest we visit Auckland Zoo more often because your financial contribution will help the revolution to continue.

Thank you for reading!!

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