Zoological Society Volunteering Goes Virtual

August 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS] Volunteer Officer Joanne Chisnall made volunteering possible for by gathering a group of students to take part in a newly created virtual programme.

A spokesperson said, “Summertime is normally a busy time for Bermuda Zoological Society [BZS] volunteers at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo [BAMZ]. However, the Coronavirus pandemic meant that normal volunteering at the facility was not possible.

“Determined to provide an opportunity for summer students, BZS Volunteer Officer, Joanne Chisnall, made volunteering possible for by gathering a group of students to take part in a newly created virtual programme, where as volunteers they could make a difference from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Tana van den Berg working on an animal enrichment toy

Animal Enrichment Bermuda Aug 2020 (1)

“The 7 week programme required the virtual volunteers to meet on Zoom each Monday for an introduction, participate in a group field trip, complete a topic-related project and finally meeting on Friday using Zoom to share what they had learnt through the week. Over the course of the 7 weeks, the virtual volunteers completed public service announcements, online crafts, natural history pieces, animal enrichment toys and information videos.

Joanna Santiago working on an animal enrichment toy

Animal Enrichment Bermuda Aug 2020 (2)

“The virtual programme was designed to supplement our existing volunteer programme,” said Mrs. Chisnall. “We wanted to demonstrate show them the importance of BZS and BAMZ working together as a team and prepare the students for future in-person opportunities within each organisation.”

Virtual volunteers at Dolphin Quest to learn about animal enrichment

Dolphin Quest Bermuda Aug 2020

“The 9 participating included a Bermudian living in England, students from BHS, Berkley Institute, Saltus and Cedarbridge Academy, and even a Police Cadet. Duke of Edinburgh students were also able to use elements of the programme to complete the service portion of the award scheme.

Trey Vance’s parrot enrichment toy

Enrichment Toy Bermuda Aug 2020

“The volunteers first week involved a discussion about how animal enrichment is a major part of keeping the animal collections at BAMZ physically and mentally healthy. After a visit to Dolphin Quest to learn about enrichment activities for the resident dolphins, they were then instructed to conduct independent research on animal enrichment, learn how it is done within zoos and finally to practice using their own pets.

Virtual volunteers conducting a beach clean up at John Smith’s Bay

Beach Cleanup Bermuda Aug 2020

“Our virtual volunteer programme this summer was a real success,” said Mrs. Chisnall. “Who would have thought you could engage young adults virtually and get them to volunteer for a cause online.”

“The shared mission of BZS and BAMZ is to inspire appreciation and care of island environments, and as the support charity for BAMZ, the BZS is an example of a highly successful non-profit/public partnership. Each year the BZS more than 8,000 free educational experiences through our Stempel Foundation-BZS Schools Programme in addition to popular community programmes for all ages, development of BAMZ exhibits, and conservation and research programmes. Each year, BZS Volunteers contribute over 10,000 hours of valuable husbandry support to the Aquarium and Zoo with all programmes being accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.”

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