Next up, as part of our Sunday Girl meets ZSL series is Lucy, who works on the Mammals Team at ZSL London Zoo. We caught up about making friends with an Emperor Tamarin monkey, her must-haves from the new collection and meeting the legendary David Attenborough.
What’s an average day like for you?
In our profession there is no such thing as an average day, you really don’t know what could happen and that’s one of the many reasons why I love my job so much!
I start the day, like most adults, with a sweet and delicious coffee that gets me ready to deal with anything. My fellow keepers and I will check all the animals on our section are alive and well, make up their breakfasts and make sure all the windows are free from grubby fingerprints.
We’ll then go around each group of animals’ enclosures cleaning up after them, giving them fresh water, bedding and maybe some fresh herbs for them to either eat or play with.
Then it’s time for my lunch, which never looks as good as the animals’ lunch! We make sure they have a healthy and balanced diet with fresh fruit and vegetables from Covent Garden Market.
Then the afternoon is spent either making enrichment items for the animals to play with, or enhancing their environments by adding new plants, building new areas for them to climb around or just general exhibit maintenance. Before we all leave, we make sure all the animals are happy and safely tucked up for the night.
When did you realise that this was your dream job?
When I’d been working in the Rainforest House for about 6 months and was befriended by an emperor tamarin monkey! He was an old male living on his own after his female of many years had passed away of old age. Apparently he wasn’t bothered about any of the other keepers, but as a new person in the team I thought I could win him over. He used to stay away from me at first when I went into his enclosure, but I would just chat to him anyway and leave him little treats hidden around. Then one day he actually jumped over to me and made his happy sound while he followed me around his enclosure. After a while he would great me at the door when I opened it!
And what brought you to ZSL?
I studied Marine and Freshwater Biology at university and originally wanted to work in the aquarium, but fell in love with the monkeys in the Rainforest House. ZSL London Zoo has always had such a great reputation for pushing the boundaries of animal welfare and conservation; it was always going to be my first choice.
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…
All us keepers have a uniform, which makes things easier in the morning when trying to decide what to wear! In the summer we have black cargo shorts with many pockets to hold all our tools or handy accessories. We also wear a green polo shirt. In the winter we have black combat trousers, again with lots of pockets!
And how would a weekend outfit compare? How do you style yourself in your down time?
I tend to be a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl, but I do love to get all girly and dress up for special occasions.
We’ve been so inspired by the amazing work ZSL do. How important is conservation and the protection of wildlife to you?
Conservation means a lot to me because without it, ecosystems would fall apart and animals will become extinct. People often care about cute, big animals like monkeys, tigers and eagles but it is just as important to look after animals that are not as beloved, like jellyfish, wasps and cod.
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?
The aye-aye is the only primate that uses echolocation
Of all the animals ZSL works so hard to protect, which animal best describes you and your personality?
The golden headed lion tamarin monkey. They are cheeky, playful, very social and stand up for themselves no matter their size!
And if you could be any animal for a day, which would you be?
I would be one of our two-toed sloths. I’d lie around all day, get fed and get groomed by the other smaller monkeys. Heaven!
Do you prefer the company of wildlife, animals and nature to humans, because we definitely do sometimes?!
Animals are a lot easier to interact with than humans. You know where you are with them, they don’t seem to hold grudges and most can be won over instantly with food.
How would you describe the Oasis x ZSL collection?
It’s got a great summery / earthy feel about it, showcasing some of the best animals! Some of the pieces remind me of my trip to Iguazu Falls in Argentina, spotting animals in the rainforest.
Do you have a favourite piece from the collection? Anything you’re desperate to get into your wardrobe?
The trainers look pretty cool!
What’s been your most memorable moment working at ZSL?
Meeting David Attenborough was a life changing moment for me; he is a legend and such a lovely man to talk to.
Have you fallen in love with Lucy’s laid-back look as much as we have? Why not have a browse at our full ZSL collection here.