Our mission

Ponderosa Zoo's mission is to educate people of all ages and backgrounds on the natural world and the threats species face on a daily basis. We aim to promote the work zoo's do globally through education surrounding conservation.

About Ponderosa Zoo

Ponderosa Zoo (originally Ponderosa Rural Therapeutic Centre) was created in 1991 by Maureen Cook with the aim to 'bridge the gap' between disabled and able bodied people through the care of animals as a form of therapy. At the time the centre held a variety of domestic animals including pigs, goats and cattle.

Since its conception Ponderosa Zoo is now home to over 120 animals from lemurs to reindeer. We are a dedicated team of hard working and passionate individuals who aim to promote animal welfare, in addition to educating the public on conservation efforts and the threats many species now face in the wild. In 2017 we took another step in journey by becoming provisional BIAZA members.

Although we are now a much bigger facility with our primary focus being on welfare, education and conservation, we still hold our 'Bridge the Gap' vision by ensuring our zoo is always disabled friendly and offering a variety of grounds keeping roles for disabled individuals to gain valuable work experience in a friendly and welcoming environment.

Meet The Team


Zoo Manager

Eve joined Ponderosa in May 2016 as a mammal keeper before being promoted to Zoo manager.  She has a degree in Animal Health and Welfare along with years of experience working with a vast range of species. 

Eve’s favourite animals at Ponderosa are the two young Coatis, Nina and Bella. Along with our Reindeer calf, Faline who was born in June 2018.

 ‘Being the manager of Ponderosa is an honour, it’s a wonderful place where we get to work with and learn from some incredible animals. The team we have here is absolutely fantastic – with our shared passion for animal welfare and conservation we work together brilliantly. We’re like a big family, this place really is more than a job to all of us and I wouldn’t change it for the world.'


Reptile and Invertebrate Keeper

After acquiring a degree in Welfare of Animal Collections at Myerscough College, Ryan joined our team as a full-time reptile keeper. With his specialist knowledge and experience the Reptile House has been updated and there are many new species to be seen. 

‘For me, working at Ponderosa boils down to four distinct things. Firstly and most importantly is that I get to fulfil my dream of being a dedicated reptile keeper, working with snakes, lizards and insects. Secondly, I finally get to work with my favourite animal, the Asian short clawed otter, which allows me to use my experience in animal training and behaviour to clicker and target train the otters, something that I have always wanted to do and get a great deal of enjoyment out of. Third is that I get to use my distinction in enclosure design to constantly update and improve the animals habitats. And finally I can use my creative thinking to come up with new enrichment ideas for all the animals I get to work with.’


Animal Keeper

Laura enjoys working with a huge range of the animals we keep here from the alpacas to the birds. After earning herself a degree in Welfare of Animal Collections she started as a volunteer, mainly helping take care of the horses before moving onto working with the birds, where she was then employed as an animal keeper. 

Since then Laura has continued to show exceptional standards and works with almost every animal we keep. Her personal favourites are Vinnie the otter and one of our macaws named Charlie. 

Away from work, Laura has a huge variety of pets she takes care of from a duckling to degus! And enjoys dying her hair a variety of vivid colours.

She’s an amazing member of the team, very high spirited, full of passion and always goes the extra mile when it comes to animal welfare.


Mammal Keeper

Shannon started as a volunteer in October 2017, whilst studying Animal Management at Askham Bryan college. In the spring Shannon became a member of our education team and later on became a mammal keeper providing her with experience whilst completing a degree. Shannon aspires to be a wildlife conservationist abroad, hoping to gain even further experience.

“It’s hard for me to pick a favourite but if I had to it would be the lemurs or reindeers”

 “Being able to work at Ponderosa has been an amazing opportunity. It has allowed me to carry out work that I am passionate about with a variety of species”.


Education Officer

Jess started as a volunteer in 2014. She was then promoted in the summer of 2017 to be part of the education team, at the beginning of 2019 Jess became the education officer of the zoo! Currently studying a BSC in animal conservation at 
Askham Bryan College, Jess has a passion for helping conserve species as well as educating people on how they can help. 

"Working at Ponderosa provides me with the opportunity to educate people of all ages on something I am passionate about. Its hard to choose a favourite animal, but it has got to be Merlin the Coati and Odd-Bod the Black and White Ruffed Lemur" 

Jess aspires to be an orangutan conservationist.


Animal Keeper

Jonny joined our team as a volunteer towards the end of 2017 to pursue a career within the animal industry. He had already completed a degree in Zoo Biology at Nottingham Trent and excelled here at Ponderosa. In May 2018 Jonny was hired as a member of the education team before moving on to the role of animal keeper. 

'Working at Ponderosa is amazing for me because working with animals is something I've always wanted to do and I'm able to work with a huge variety here. It has also given me the confidence to present keeper talks and allows me to effectively pass on my knowledge and passion for animals to the visitors'.

September 2019 - We currently have no paid vacancies and no volunteering/ work experience placements available at this time