Standing in the Keepers’ Shoes

Hello to all, I thought I would introduce myself. My name is Tom Richardson and I am employed as one of the animal keepers at Askham Bryan College, currently manning the fort here at Stewarts Park. I have been with the college for quite a number of years now, both as a student and as an employee. There have been quite a lot of questions regarding how one develops into this kind of job and what made you get into animal management and zoology. So I thought I would briefly share how I became intrigued by it all and the steps that led me to the role I’m in now, as well as future opportunities.Goat Farm Animal Stewart Park Middlesbrough Teesside Zoology

My true passions for animal management, zoology and conservation stemmed from an early age. I was captivated by zoological personalities by the likes of Sir David Attenborough and Steve Erwin, interacting with a variety of fascinating species. I was the head of a wildlife club at primary school and helped to change the school’s attitude to wildlife and conservation. This led to the school building hibernacula, bird boxes and even constructing a pond. I used to go to many wildlife parks and zoos when I was younger and I remember observing the keepers’ duties, how they showed their passion towards the animals and what they stood for via talks and presentations. It was then that I knew this was something I wished to be a part of.

Goat Alpaca Farm Animal Stewart Park Middlesbrough Teesside Zoology

This then led me to achieve a Level 3 National Diploma in Animal Management and a BSc Hons in Animal Conservation Science. Through this process I have found my niche within the zoological sphere, specialising within Herpetology (reptiles and amphibians).

So here I am now, stood in the shoes of an animal keeper that once inspired me. I look out from the enclosures and see parents with their children and can’t help but think that it is a reflection of when I started – one complete circle. There are a lot of opportunities out there and if I can captivate and inspire even just one person, they could be next in line to be part of the zoological community.

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