‘USA has nothing like this Shepreth Eden’

Jen Simonson and Lainie with red panda. PICTURE: Clive Porter.

Jen Simonson and Lainie with red panda. PICTURE: Clive Porter. - Credit: Archant

The old adage about not working with children or animals hasn’t put off Jen Simonson. Far from her native home in Minnesota, Jen has devoted her time to teaching young children about animal behaviour in Shepreth.

Jen Simonson with the endangered Madagascan lemur. PICTURE: Clive Porter.

Jen Simonson with the endangered Madagascan lemur. PICTURE: Clive Porter. - Credit: Archant

It was while she was studying at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge that she happened to pay a visit to the Shepreth Wildlife Park, and immediately fell in love with its charms.

“I loved it so much I enrolled as a volunteer,” Jen said. “I see Shepreth as the Eden of wildlife. It is such a magical and inspiring place. There is nothing in the USA to rival this.”

From then on her visits to the park became more frequent, and when she finished university, she applied for a work permit to assist full time.

Now the 30-year-old organises educational activities, and has teemed up with Lainie Bazzoni, head of education, to form the Ringo’s Rangers Kids Club to give children aged seven to 14 an interactive and hands-on experience with the animals.


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The club stages many activities throughout the year. Over the Easter holidays, the club staged a mock detective case titled The Animal Break-In. Clues were left around the Park, and the suspects ranged from red pandas to lemurs.

Ringo’s Rangers meet every Thursday from 4.15pm to 6.15pm during term time with the after school club, and the holiday camp operates between 10am and 1pm and from 1.30pm to 4.30pm during the school holidays. To find out more, email education@sheprethwildlifepark.co.uk.

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