Our Medway Campus theatre recently hosted visitors from the Fenn Bell Zoo and the Kent Owl Academy to talk to our Animal Management and Applied Science students about gaining work experience through industry placement and the value of volunteering.

The Kent Owl Academy is within the grounds of Kent Life in Maidstone. They offer an insight into the world of owls, raptors (also known as birds of prey) and various animals. Owner/Director and former MidKent College Animal Management student Mollie King explained that their work revolves around school and educational visits, experience days and TV, film and media. The team is highly professional and accredited and is passionate about sharing their knowledge with their visitors – young and old.

The Fenn Bell Zoo is the proud holder of the Medway Town’s first and only zoological licence. Owner Andy explained that all of the animals cared for at Fenn Bell (also known as the FBC Project) have either come from other zoos or have been rescued. The aim of the project is to give all of these animals a safe and enriching environment to live in. The project actively identifies conservation opportunities to work with and offers lots of opportunity to work with schools. FBC is extremely proud of their work educating children and young people about different animals and species.

Both Mollie and Andy explained the importance of passion when it comes to wanting a career in animal management or for example, as a zoo keeper. They highlighted that simply ‘loving animals’ was not a key factor in their decision-making process when employing young people for positions as a volunteer or when interviewing for an industry placement student. They were also very candid and honest as to the sheer hardwork it involves and that it is not a well remunerated industry!

Animal Management lecturer, Ant Finch, who arranged the visit said “I felt the openness and honest accounts from Mollie, Andy and their teams were a great help for the students in the audience. It became very apparent that passion is the number one trait looked for. The other favourable attribute is a willingness to work hard and go above and beyond and the students trying to consciously think of the added value that they could personally bring to any task or project they were involved with. I hope that we have inspired a few of the audience to approach Andy and Mollie for a possible industry placement!”.