Meet the volunteer: Nicki Ilton

Nicki (1)
What made you decide to volunteer at Durrell?

We had a family membership for years when the children were small and I had read most of Gerald Durrell’s books as a child myself. I became a member again a couple of years ago.

When I was made redundant I wanted to give something back to Durrell for all the years of pleasure we shared as a family and in my own small way want to help save animals from extinction by spreading the word of our important work.

Tell us a bit about your volunteering journey at Durrell so far

Currently I’m working with our beautiful sloths and what a privilege to see these amazing mammals in a habitat so like their own. The smiles of pleasure on our visitors faces when they see the sloths out  really makes my day. The team are amazing to work with and always happy to answer questions. The volunteers I’ve come across, Sarah, Liz, Theresa and Christine have been a great support and inspiration.

Tell us about your volunteering highlights

I absolutely love coming to Durrell, it makes my day. I meet a variety of people, some make me, laugh, cry and be amazed! As soon as I enter the zoo all my worries disappear, it is the most amazing place to be. There are many highlights of being a volunteer, not least having a closer interaction with the sloths with keepers, Fern and Laura. I think the biggest was hand feeding our bears before they left Durrell, an incredible experience.

How has volunteering at Durrell supported your personal life?

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my training with the sloths and I am hoping to widen my knowledge. It is such an honour to be close to these wonderful mammals. I have made some lovely friends and thoroughly enjoy meeting them for an occasional coffee, or sharing a shift. I’m so looking forward to a walk around the park at dusk with some of them.

What do you do in an average day when you volunteer?

Primarily my shifts are with the sloths, sharing my knowledge with our visitors and also making them aware of the amazing work Durrell does, not only in Jersey, but in the wider world. I open up the top end of the sloth house, and make ready to receive our visitors and at the end of my shift lock up again if there are no other volunteers to take over. My role here is to protect the sloths and visitors alike.

What advice would you give someone looking to start volunteering at Durrell?

If you like meeting people and share a love of animals, have a chat with Daniel, he is a fount of knowledge! Chat to one of the other volunteers, they can usually to be found in one of the Cafes or on site.