By Cindy Co | CNA | SINGAPORE |
SINGAPORE: When Ms Delvinder Kaur signed up for a stint as a show presenter at the Singapore Zoo in 2013, she expected nothing more than a fun holiday job of playing with animals and speaking to visitors before moving on to do her university degree.
Fast forward six years, Delvinder, 28, hopes to retire in the zoo.
“I’ve seen a lot of my seniors who have retired here, and even after retiring, they still come back. You see the passion, and I think that’s the same passion that I would want in myself as well,” she said.
The Life Science Associate is just one of the many zookeepers who joined the Singapore Zoo without a related degree.
“Like most young kids at that point in time, I was just looking for a fun job, something that was just out of the ordinary, and Singapore Zoo was one of the areas,” she said.
Show presenting gave her the opportunity to work with a variety of animals, such as sea lions and elephants, and develop her understanding of them. And it was this understanding that allowed her to appreciate the animals a lot more.
In fact, she enjoyed her post-A levels holiday job so much that she never stopped.
“I fell in love with the job,” she said, “and I dragged it on a bit longer to find out what it is that I wanted to do.”
Despite having no background in life sciences, on-the-job training helped Delvinder learn the ins-and-outs of zookeeping. (Photo: Marcus Ramos)
A few months turned into another three years before she decided to continue the studies that she had put on hold.
In 2015, Delvinder moved from being a show presenter to the zoology department, where she got her first taste of working with invertebrates – specifically, insects.
She explained that she found the classification of animals – the different species and subspecies – one of the most challenging things about the job initially.
“I think not being from a life science background, zoology background, did make it a bit difficult initially … but the thing about Singapore Zoo and being a zookeeper, a lot of things happen with on-the-job training.
“Being on the field and working with different teams and with the guidance of your seniors, it allows you to develop the needed skills to manage and take care of animals and to understand the animals we have under human care as well,” she said.
All the guidance and hard work paid off when she managed to move from her part-time position to a full-time junior zookeeper position in 2016. At the same time, she started her English Language and Communications degree with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, which she is due to complete in a year.
“I feel like I grew up in the zoo. I became a bit more mature in this environment, because I understand it a bit more,” she said.
“It maybe started off as something very childish, (but) it’s something more important and valuable to me now – it’s a greater cause.”
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