My name is Katy Beschizza and I am profoundly deaf due to having had pneumococcal meningitis at 6 months of age. I am married, have two cats and one bearded dragon. I rely on lip-reading and signing (SSE).
Despite this I am doing my dream job – A zookeeper for Marwell Wildlife, a charity which runs a zoo in Hampshire. I was the first deaf person to become a zookeeper in the UK and now have been at Marwell for 18 years. I made my mind up that I wanted to be a zookeeper after after a trip to Marwell Zoo when I was five-years-old. All my work experience from school (Ovingdean Hall School) involved animals, including working on a dairy farm! Determination and hard work paid off and after studying animal care at Sparsholt College and work experience (training by Shaw Trust) at Marwell, I was offered a job. If people can see past the deafness you can achieve the same as a hearing person.
I worked in the primate section for 15 years learning everything I could from handling, nutrition, daily feeding, and health care for the lemurs, tamarins, gibbons, macaques and many more. Now for the last three years I have worked in the Hoofstock section. This involves working with giraffes, three different species of zebra, white rhinos, okapi, bongo, buffalo, Somali wild ass, and different species of antelopes. I am involved in the daily care, feeding, cleaning, health checks as well as loading and unloading of animals when they are being transported. I also enjoy helping the vet team when they are carrying out procedures on the animals.
Marwell Zoo has more than one hundred species of animals including birds, carnivores and invertebrates. Many of these are part of important endangered species breeding programmes to conserve a healthy population of animals. Marwell Wildlife is a charity and as well as housing threatened species at the zoo it also carries out conservation work all over the world.
Being profoundly deaf does not stop me from doing the same tasks as hearing people. I feel very confident and safe in my role and have the necessary support from staff if I need it.