We've been chatting to Keeper, Lauren Amos, to find out what a typical day is like working with the Carnivores at Howletts Wild Animal Park.
How long have you been working at Howletts Wild Animal Park?
I have been at the park for a little over 2 years on the carnivore keeping section.
Can you give us a typical example of your day?
Beginning at 8am, a couple of us will do the rounds checking the big cats, canids and leopards are all ok and exactly where they should be. After which we will go back to base to finish preparing the feeds for the day and making up any enrichment we want to give out in the morning.
9:30 - 12:00: We will each head out to feed any small cats and honey badgers on our section and then begin cleaning our sections. You will currently find me working with 10 of our 15 clouded leopards and our small family of Pallas cats opposite the famous Arina the Amur tiger. Clouded leopards are adapted to live arboreal lifestyles so if they eat at the top of the enclosure (over 6m) that’s exactly where I’ve got to get to to ensure our animals live in clean and tidy homes.
Working with clouded leopards is rewarding because of their elusiveness so if you see me, always feel free to ask me where to find them so I can point them out to you, as there will always be one out at all times of the day. The Pallas cats are great also, and never a dull moment trying to work with them as there’s always one little one trying to jump in your cleaning bucket!
1:00 - 5:00: Could be doing anything from animal experiences, enrichment making to grass cutting, hedge cutting and weeding and even to the less glamorous part of the job - the butchery. And in between all of that we will feed our animals their first/ last meal of the day.
5:00+ write our daily reports so everyone is up to date with the events of the day.
What’s the least favourite part of your day?
Hmm, everyday is different but a stand out moment is trying to find the 3 North Chinese leopards during the morning checks. Their camouflage is just spot on and you can always guarantee they are staring straight back at you, it can be a tense time. Other days they can be an absolute dream and be sat there waiting for you.
Do you have a favourite animal and why?
That’s always such a hard question because they are all so different. Lions have always been a big favourite since I was a child, they are just stunning and incredible. When you see everything that they can put up with (like a severe wound or illness) and carry on like nothing ever happened, their stubborness to give in amazes me. Sulawesi crested black macaques - legendary species - lots of fun to work with, they are into everything, destroy everything and are just so intelligent you really have to be one step ahead.
But then there are individuals like Nika our Amur tiger and Sanker our old man fishing cat, both have recently passed and stole my heart with their quirks and will forever be missed!
What’s your favourite cheese?
Favourite cheese, plain old cheddar for me - goes in/with almost anything and usually the cheapest type in the supermarket.