Guest Blog – Deaf Zookeeper

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, and I rely on lip-reading and signing (SSE).  I am a zookeeper at Marwell Zoo.


My dream job

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 up my mind that I wanted to be a zookeeper 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 their deafness, they 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, and bongo; buffalo, Somali wild ass; and different species of antelopes. I am involved in the daily care, feeding, cleaning, and health checks, as well as the loading and unloading of animals when they are being transported. I also enjoy helping the vet team when they carry out animal procedures.


Supporting conservation work

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 being a zookeeper and doing the same tasks as hearing people. I feel confident and safe in my role and have the necessary support from staff if needed.