Liam Knapp-Bates working at Colchester zoo handling an owl

Liam Knapp-Bates explains how our volunteering programme (VTeam) shaped his future career as a Zookeeper.

Get stuck in
From the day he came to an Open Day, Liam felt like Essex was home, “I was really impressed with the wide variety of facilities provided on campus and how beautiful the lake area was”, making his decision to study at Essex a pretty easy one. After joining the University as a student, Liam was sure to get involved with all of the opportunities Essex had to offer and advises all future students to “sign up to a hundred clubs or societies (you’ll probably only attend one, two if you’re optimistic) and get involved with everything going on on campus as I guarantee you’ll find something happening pretty much every day.”

It was through his go-getter attitude that he landed his role at Colchester Zoo, “I actually secured the position through Essex’s volunteering program (VTeam) in my final year of study so I could volunteer at the Zoo at least one day a week”.

Studying science at Essex, and beyond Liam was a keen scientist from a young age “I always liked science growing up and didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it…in particular biology was always my favourite”. The diverse modules available in the BSc Biological Sciences course captured his attention and allowed him to explore so many different aspects of biology, “I was really interested in gaining a wider breadth of knowledge in biology with the hope of focusing on specific areas in the coming years”.

His favourite part of the course was the lab work, “I conducted so many different experiments and learnt so much about the vocation of science research through them”. Another memorable part of his studies was the field trips he attended as part of his degree. “The trip to Indonesia in my second year to participate in coral reef surveys was definitely a highlight and provided a good balance to the lab work back at the university”. “When it comes to the field trips, make sure you go on as many as you can as they’re invaluable and it’s nice to get out of the lab sometimes!”

Monkey Business
Since graduating from Essex, Liam has been participating in an internship scheme at Colchester Zoo as a full time Zookeeper, “I’m now in month 11 and essentially have been training to become a fully-qualified zookeeper, with the aim to gain full time employment upon completion of the scheme”. He claims studying at Essex proved invaluable for him whilst trying to gain a job through providing a variety of skills. “It was only through the university programme that I had the chance to participate in the zookeeper internship and so far I have had the best time…I still can’t quite believe I get to look after so many amazing animals as my job!”