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Siblings share a passion for animals

Royal Gazette

By Mark Prior
Published July 26, 2013 at 8:00 am

A passion for animals led siblings Peter and Kate Cooper to become volunteers with the Bermuda Zoological Society.

Kate signed up six years ago while involved with the Duke of Edinburgh programme. The scheme required participants to volunteer for six months and offered an opportunity to work with BZS she jumped at the chance.

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Young Achiever, Kate Cooper, 19
(Photo by Mark Tatem)

Peter joined her three years later, while a student at Saltus Grammar School.

“My sister was working here, and seemed like she was having a good time,” the 17-year-old told The Royal Gazette.

The experience led both of them to be hired by the Flatts facility as summer students. The money they’ve saved will be put towards their studies in the United Kingdom.

Peter is to pursue mechanical engineering at the University of Loughbourough in England, while his 19-year-old sister has already embarked on a degree in zoology at Wales’ Bangor University.

The Pembroke residents went through the junior volunteer programme at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo which taught them about the various roles the facility plays in the community.

Peter most enjoyed giving talks to children in BAMZ’s summer camps.

“Interacting with people is lots of fun. You pick up a lot of things along the way and you can share it with the public,” he said.

“It’s fun to tell the children that come here for summer camp lots of things that I’ve learned.”

His daily routine includes monitoring the conditions of tanks and the health of the animals inside them.

“I check my sections of the tanks for sediment, sand and fish food and suck up all the sand,” he said.

“Feeding the seals is the most fun. They all have different personalities and interact with you differently based on how long you spend time with them. One seal, Pebbles, lets my sister pet her and touch her, but won’t let me do as much.”

The former Bermuda High School student worked as a junior volunteer for an entire year.

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Young Achiever, Peter Cooper, 17
(Photo by Mark Tatem)

“It was a perfect opportunity,” she said. “I always had an interest in animals and working here is really good exposure to what I want to do for a living.”

She works side by side with BAMZ instructors each day, feeding the turtles and seals and explaining the animals’ behaviours to visitors to the facility.

She claims that public speaking isn’t one of her strengths, but manages to share her love for the animals with children despite that.

“I’m really enjoying working this year because I’m talking a lot more, “ she said. “Before, I would [listen to others explain about the animals] but now I get to talk about them myself.”

BZS volunteer coordinator Joanne Chisnall said she was pleased with how the siblings had developed.

“It’s nice to see them want to come back and be with us,” she said. “We run a really tight ship around here, but they like what they do.

“We look for passion, being able to work as a team, interest in Bermuda’s environment; we teach you life skills and volunteering is treated as a real job. They go through an interview process and are expected to make time.”