Next up in our Sunday Girl meet ZSL series is ZSL Whipsnade Zoo Presenter, Jessica.
We got to chatting about the importance of conservation, the thrill of sharing weird and wonderful wildlife knowledge with the public and her most memorable ZSL moment
What’s an average day like for you?
Every day is completely different from the last. It’s always exciting to learn a new talk, do research into different species and also to present talks to a different audience each time. We have a lovely team who have a catch up in the morning, allocate talks to each presenter and then we’re off straight away. I’ll have time to do research in between each talk and rehearse with my fellow presenters and the day always seems to go so quickly.
When did you realise that this was your dream job?
Probably by the end of my first day! I had such a rush of adrenaline at each talk and loved sharing my knowledge with interested members of the public.
And what brought you to ZSL?
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has always been one of my favourite places to go; living nearby meant that I was here most months with my family as a child, then as I grew up it became a great day out with friends as well. When I applied for the job it just felt right as I’ve always admired ZSL for the work they do and wanted to be a part of it.
We might be wrong, but we can’t imagine you reaching for a suit and tie in the morning. Tell us a bit more about your typical work outfit…
The idea of coming to work in a suit and tie would be hilarious! For work we have our green ZSL polo tops and as the weather has brightened up I’ve been living in my comfy shorts. Not only is the uniform a great way to connect members of staff as a team; but it is also very practical when you have to walk around pretty much constantly. My favourite part has to be the boots – they’re heavy duty and they make my day so much easier when walking through mud or long grass and it means I don’t have to worry.
And how would a weekend outfit compare? How do you style yourself in your down time?
In my down time I much more go for comfort. If I’m not going anywhere then I have my favourite, oversized T-shirt and leggings look. However, normally my days off involve tasks like food shopping, for which I normally would wear a comfy, floral dress.
We’ve been so inspired by the amazing work ZSL do. How important is conservation and the protection of wildlife to you?
Conservation efforts and the need to protect wildlife is something I research almost every day at work, and every time I learn something new I become more and more passionate about sharing this information with our visitors and encouraging them to help in any way they can. Some of the information we find is shocking; so hearing about the constant hard work that ZSL is doing means so much and is something that makes me so proud to work here.
The EDGE programme and the wider work that the charity does has brought some really unique and unusual wildlife to our attention. What’s your favourite wildlife fact?
Well as chimps are my favourite, some of the facts about them – specifically how similar they are to humans always fascinate me. For example, chimpanzees have exactly the same number of hair follicles as humans.
Of all the animals ZSL works so hard to protect, which animal best describes you and your personality?
I would say a tiger. Whilst both the Amur tigers at Whipsnade and the Sumatran tigers at London are waaaay more beautiful than myself, I think I have the same playful nature as a young tiger, I like investigating things and overall, I would love to sleep as much as a tiger – big cats generally clock in up to 20 hours a day!
And if you could be any animal for a day, which would you be?
Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of spiders, there are some spiders that can do what is called “ballooning” where they can travel through the air by releasing silk threads that get caught in the wind. Some atmospheric data has recorded these ballooning spiders at 5km above the earth. That sounds like fun to me!
Do you prefer the company of wildlife, animals and nature to humans, because we definitely do sometimes?!
On occasion, yes! Animals are amazing at surprising you, they will do the strangest or most incredible things and I’ll find myself in awe of these animals and not wanting to leave them.
How would you describe the Oasis x ZSL collection?
I think this is a great representation of wildlife! Almost every piece of clothing is individual, just like the animals we work to protect. The collection is also beautiful and intricate, just like nature.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection? Anything you’re desperate to get into your wardrobe?
The dresses! There’s a black one with branches, leaves and different animals on and it looks adorable.
What’s been your most memorable moment working at ZSL?
At ZSL Whipsnade Zoo we have a summer event called Sunset Safari, we open the zoo in the evening, have loads of food stalls, events, tours and evening talks. It was a fantastic atmosphere and I presented the Tiger Talk. It was amazing. Hundreds of people around the enclosure with a real interest in tigers and we also got to watch the tiger having an enrichment feed. I felt so lucky just to be there, let alone work there! I loved it.
Feel inspired by Jessica’s playful parrots tea dress? We don’t blame you! Shop the entire ZSL collection here.