Becoming a Junior Zookeeper for a day at Marwell

Ear Scratch Rhino

Ever since Isaac was little, if you asked him what job he wanted to do when he was older he would say “a zookeeper”.

I had looking into zookeeper for a day options for him for his birthday and decided to pick our nearest zoo – Marwell, as it had the best package.

Although Isaac’s birthday was back in April, Marwell’s Junior Zookeeper for a Day package is very popular and the earliest date I could book was this weekend, but he received a lovely invitation in the post with all the information about his exciting day at the zoo.

We arrived at 9am to join the other two children taking part. Each child has one accompanying adult with them, but other family members are offered discounted entry if they want to join them in the zoo.

We started off with a health and safety talk and the kids were then presented with a Marwell souvenir drawstring bag containing:

  • A certificate
  • A Marwell notepad and pencil
  • A badge
  • Stickers
  • Snack Voucher

We then headed off into the zoo to spend time with Marwell’s trained staff in preparing food and enrichment for their animals, mucking out their enclosures and meeting and feeding some of them behind the scenes.

Our guide for the day was Helen, who was brilliant with the kids, telling them the names of all the animals in the zoo and giving us information and fascinating facts about each as we walked past.

Our first stop was the giraffes, where we would be helping muck them out – after they finally persuaded Matilda to leave and go outside that is. Even the keepers are not allowed in the pen with them as giraffe’s have such a powerful kick that they can split a lion’s skull in half.

Matilda Giraffe

The kids were given their own broom and shovel and were instructed to sweep all the soiled sawdust and poo into a pile.

Zookeeper Giraffe

Once the floor was clean, they then had to use the scoops to pop the waste into the bin.


Once the floor was clear, they then got to lay down a fresh layer of sawdust for the giraffe’s, which they discovered help make cleaning their enclosure easier as well as helping to absorb moisture and make the floor more comfortable for the giraffe’s to walk on – all under the watchful eye of the giraffe’s of course.

Giraffe Marwell

Did you know: Giraffe’s are ruminant mammals. This means that they first swallow all the food that they want after some perfunctory chewing, and then bring up the half-digested cud back up to the mouth later, to chew on again – next time you visit, watch their necks and you can see the muscles contracting in rhythm to send the food back up the neck into their mouths!

Many of the animals in the zoo are more active at dawn and dusk, so we were really lucky to see the cheetah’s and leopards up close as we walked past.


Our next stop was the primate kitchen, where we got to make up special treat bags for the gibbons.

Morio Worms

This involved filling old paper food bags with straw, morio worms and peanuts and then folding them up as well as we could to give the gibbons at bit of a challenge.

Food Bags

Once finished, we took a short snack break in the Graze Cafe, before heading back to meet the keeper and hide the food bags in the Gibbons enclosure. We then got special access to watch the Gibbons try to find their bags and had a bit of a competition to see whose bag was the most challenging.


Isaac’s bag was the third to be found, but the first they managed to get into and they seemed to enjoy ripping it apart to find their tasty treats.

Gibbon Food

It was then off to meet another of the hoofstock team and the chance to meet the largest animal at Marwell – the rhino’s.


There are four rhino’s at Marwell; Kiri, Sula, Pembe and Jabari. Kiri and Sula are the old ladies of the group and Pembe and Jabari are both five years old and they hope to breed them in the next year or so as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme.

Rhino - Marwell

They took quite a bit of persuading to come down and meet us, but finally all four arrived to say “Hello” and enjoy a tickle. They are especially fond of a scratch behind the ears!!

Ear Scratch Rhino

The final part of our zookeeper experience was meeting the bird team and feeding the penguins.


They were great fun to feed and even gave us a display of porpoising, where they leap in and out of the water in a rapid series of short, shallow arcs while swimming – leaving me with a face full of water, much to the kids amusement.


That was the end of our zookeeper experience and we were asked if we had any final questions before being left to explore the rest of the zoo on our own.


The Junior Zookeeper for a Day Experience lasts from 9am – Midday costs £185 per child, with accompanying adult free.

Top Tips:

  • Wear old trainers / hiking boots as you will be expected to dip your feet in iodine solution as you enter and leave each enclosure
  • Wear long trousers and neutral coloured clothes as some animals don’t like bright colours
  • Take a jumper / jacket – it can be chilly, especially in the shade

Isaac thoroughly enjoyed his zookeeper for a day experience and I it gives a real insight into the roles the zookeepers have to play on a daily basis.





21 thoughts on “Becoming a Junior Zookeeper for a day at Marwell

  1. Stephanie says:

    This is such a fantastic day and what a brilliant idea to do as a birthday gift. Will have to keep this one in mind for future birthdays!
    Stephanie recently posted…Picking A Perfect Summer DressMy Profile

  2. What a brilliant experience for him, he looks so happy! I love Marwell zoo, it feels like a really lovely animal park and so well looked after.

  3. Oh what an experience! Isaac looks like he really enjoyed it, what an awesome birthday present. Kaz

  4. Anosa says:

    Aww what an incredible experience for him, I wouldn’t mind being a zookeeper for a day too.
    Anosa recently posted…{Monthly Series} June 2018 GoalsMy Profile

  5. Jenny says:

    I’ve done the adult version of this and it’s so much fun!

  6. This looks like a fun and educational day out for children. I know all of mine would love a day out as a junior zookeeper. That sounds like something different for children to do.
    MELANIE EDJOURIAN recently posted…The Thumbs Up Roller WheelMy Profile

  7. Wow, what an experience for your son, looks like he enjoyed it so much and will have lots of great memories of the day and animal to remember for a long time.

  8. Gemma says:

    This looks wonderful, what a special experience. Would be a great Christmas present or birthday surprise.

  9. What an amazing day out for kids – and so nice to see that everyone learns so much about the different animals. A very special birthday present.

  10. Oh wow what a super cool experience. Such a fab opportunity to get all hands on with the animals x
    Melanie williams recently posted…Luxury Leeds: Crowne Plaza Leeds Hotel ReviewMy Profile

  11. What a fantastic experience! A real insight to what the job involves, and great fun.

  12. Aww this is such a fun experience – my brother always wanted to be a zoo keeper!
    Treasure Every Moment recently posted…MEMORIES: A Journey through my Childhood and Creating a Keepsake Box with Hartnack & Co.My Profile

  13. This is a great idea for a gift. I bet my kids would love this as a gift when they are older. They are very into animals.

  14. What a great opportunity to be close to the animals! We’d love to do this and I want to be a vet when I grow up – would make a fab christmas and birthday experience!
    Bella and Dawn at Dear Mummy Blog recently posted…World Cup Fever!My Profile

  15. Claire says:

    Oh wow, this is such a good idea. It looks so much fun too 🙂

  16. Wow that’s such a magical experience. It sounds like Isaac had such an amazing time. I didn’t know zoo’s offered that, that’s fantastic! It’s great he got to meet and help out lots of different animals. It sounds well worth the money. x

  17. Laura Dove says:

    Oh wow what an amazing experience! I love this idea, my kids would literally go crazy for it!

  18. Talya says:

    What an incredible experience! This would be my daughter’s dream come true I had no idea you could actually arrange something like this.

  19. Jon says:

    I would be all over this if only for the chance to take care of the Giraffes!

  20. Louise says:

    Oh this looks just like something my eldest would like. It’s so hard to know what to get them these days but an experience like this is a lovely idea

  21. Angela says:

    What a fun idea for a present. This looks like great fun, I’d like to do it without the kids 🙂
    Angela recently posted…Walt Disney World Restaurants Worth A Second VisitMy Profile

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