My Day as a Zookeeper

One of the most wonderful things about comping is winning unusual experiences – a VIP weekend at the Olympics, a stay at the Ritz, a day in Paris with a fashion blogger, dinner at the world’s best restaurant or a double decker bus for my very own street party. Just this week a comping friend won a trip to space with the London Evening Standard – she’s actually taking the £70,000 cash alternative, whereas I would DEFINITELY be putting on my spacesuit if it was me! Comping is the only hobby where you really can’t predict what you’ll win next, and I always jump at the chance to enter comps with unusual prizes.

Last week I found myself spending the day as a zookeeper thanks to a competition sponsored by Flash & Wilkinson. To enter, you had to purchase a Flash product, and there were ten prizes of a zookeeper experience for two plus £50 travel expenses up for grabs. I shouldn’t have to remind you that any competition requiring a purchase, be it instant win, prize draw or slogan, is WELL worth doing because the majority of people simply aren’t organised enough to enter! Keep an eye on the blog for my top tips on winning ‘Purchase Necessary’ comps, coming soon…

I’ve actually spent most of this year trying to book the zookeeper experience as none of the specified zoos were anywhere near me – eventually I managed to sort out a zookeeper day on my own in London rather than a day for two at Dudley!

We met at London Zoo at 8.45am to be briefed by Jane, who was knowledgable, compassionate, strict and hilarious. Seriously, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of this woman!

Myself and the other four trainees donned our ‘Keeper for a Day’ t-shirts and got to work…
Rob and Ryland even popped along to cheer me on at various points!

Shovelling zebra shit

Waving trees at hungry giraffes

Preparing a menu of fruit and veg for the animals’ lunch

Hanging out with ‘celebrity’ penguin Ricky and his mates

Feeding snacks to cuddly Koatis

Stroking the tiger (actually, that’s a lie. We just waved at him)

Giving Boycie, Del Boy and Trigger their medication

Feeding the Giant Anteater (and cleaning his nose afterwards)

Feeding worms to meerkats

Finally we went into the lemur enclosure, where I made friends with a shy fella called Smeagol who was a fluffy unloved pet taken in by the zoo, and very fond of butternut squash. It was a brilliant and fascinating day and from what I saw, the animals seem very well cared for (and fed!). The staff there were charming and we had endless delicious refreshments to keep us going, and even got a certificate at the end. If you fancy doing a zookeeper day yourself, then keep an eye out for BuyaGift or Red Letter Day vouchers as competition prizes – £299 worth will get you a zookeeper experience day at London Zoo. Good luck!

PS. Be warned – if you do it, you will smell bloody awful on the train journey home!

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