Gemma has loved animals since she was a little girl and they seemed to love her. She always dreamed of working in the animal industry in some way, shape or form and so she set out to become qualified to do so.
Gemma achieved the First Diploma and National Diploma in Animal Care at Berkshire College of Agriculture. As part of the courses she learnt first aid for animals, dog grooming, agility, animal enrichment and lots more.
“I’ve had quite a bit of experience with animals including working in kennels, on a farm, in an animal rescue, in a couple of zoo’s and lots of pet sitting.
Before coming to work with Pet Nurses I worked in pubs and was Assistant Manager in the retail industry as I was trying to save money so I was able to go away and do animal conservation work.
First I went to Kenya and worked with the Colobus Trust, there was no animal interaction as the monkeys were all wild, but it was wonderful to work with them and help the people there. The type of things we did there was build bridges over roads so the Colobus monkeys could cross the road safely, planted trees and built a new enclosure for sick monkeys at the trust. We counted the Colobus monkeys, and made notes of which trees they were in and what they were doing. All of this research was to see if the groups were getting smaller or bigger. We went on safari to Tsavo West and East where I adopted an elephant at the David Sheldrick Trust and I got to go see ‘Burra’ feed and I managed to stroke him; we also got to see lots of wild animals including the big 5!
I have also been to Namibia for a month and worked at Harness, a wildlife rehabitation centre, the animals come here because they are injured or have been caught by farmers. When they are well they would be released. I got to walk, cuddle and feed lions cubs from aged 6 months. I also took baboons for daily walks and cleaned their living areas and fed them also. There were lots of animals at the centre including cheetahs, a vulture, a hyena, wild dogs and a giraffe. We also had to walk pet dogs daily but that was in the bush surrounded by wildebeest and warthogs. I especially enjoyed snuggling with lions but in my heart I knew these animals should be out in the wild.
I then spent a month in South Africa at Siyafunda which is a game reserve. I learned how to be a game keeper and how to track animals. Whilst I was there we tracked lions, rhino’s, elephants, leopards and hyenas and got very close to some of them. We did a lot a research into the behaviour and numbers in each species group using gps and modern technology. I slept out under the stars with hyenas very close by and I slept in a tent nearby leopards and elephants who were visiting the camp. We built a viewing tower for visitors and worked with the local community which was a great deal of fun.”
A Litte More About Gemma…
Gemma loves snails and has kept Giant African Land Snails as pets. She also has rather unlikely favourite animals such as hyenas, cows and tapirs.
“I’ve done a bungee jump, driven a tank and enjoyed sphering”. Gemma is definitely our Action Girl!