No lion around for teenage zookeeper

Hollie-Anne Hollis is taking part in a ten week course at the zoo keeper academy at Blackpool Zoo.
Hollie-Anne Hollis is taking part in a ten week course at the zoo keeper academy at Blackpool Zoo.

AN aspiring zoologist has been given a hands-on taster of what her future career could be like with behind the scenes access at Blackpool Zoo.

Hollie-Anne Hollis, 17, is on a ten-week course to learn all about what it takes to be a zookeeper – she’s now as comfortable with the tigers as the tarantulas.

Hollie-Anne Hollis is taking part in a ten week course at the zoo keeper academy at Blackpool Zoo.

Hollie-Anne Hollis is taking part in a ten week course at the zoo keeper academy at Blackpool Zoo.

And she’s turned her hand to everything from training the sea-lions to feeding the lions.

The Blackpool Zookeeper Academy programme appealed to Hollie-Anne for more than just the fun she’s had in the attraction, the Blackpool Sixth Form student is also serious about conservation work.

She said: “I’ve learnt a lot about zoos and the conservation projects they are involved in. It’s not just touching and seeing the animals, we do a lot of theory work and learn about conservation work. I think it’s important to educate people about animals.”

Hollie-Anne, who has two dogs, a guinea pig and a cockatiel at her home on Westfield Road, South Shore, will been the envy of Blackpool after she was able to get up close to one of the zoo’s newest arrival, a baby gorilla. But she is very interested in the care of large animals, like the giraffes, camels and elephants and has especially enjoyed learning about the “lesser known” zoo animals such as tapirs, aardvarks and capybaras.

She added: “It’s good getting in with the animals you don’t think of in a zoo – I’d love to have an aardvark now.”

When she’s completed her BTEC in applied science and A Level in photography Hollie-Anne hopes to pursue a career working with animals.

She said: “I think I’d only enjoy a job where I’m making a difference.”

For now she’s keeping her animal care and interest closer to home, working part-time running donkey rides on St Annes beach.

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