In the Vivarium we have small team of volunteers who consist mainly of zoology and biology students from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester. We are also very pleased to have our regular volunteers and those from the ‘In touch Project involved on a daily basis in the Vivarium with our ‘hands on’ table (pictured). All our volunteers are valued members of our team and we hope that the professional experience they receive whilst working with us is enjoyable and goes some way to helping support their chosen course and their future profession.


Hi, I’m Tara and I’ve been helping out in the vivarium for a couple of months now.  I’m in every Monday with Adam Bland, who is an endless fountain of knowledge on reptiles and amphibians, so it’s a great way to start the week. My main duty, like the other volunteers, is to clean out the frog tanks and most weeks I also clean out and feed the baby geckos.  It may not sound like much, but it’s an incredible privilege to be able to work hands on with these beautiful and fascinating creatures, as many of them are very rare and face extinction in the wild.  I am also a third year zoology student at the University of Manchester and am very interested in the breeding programs carried out in the vivarium as they have massive implications for the conservation of many of the rarer species found in the museum.  The vivarium is run by Andrew Gray who gives fascinating talks to many students from the university and school children from around Manchester.  These are a great way to get kids excited about nature, which I feel is important for the future of the wildlife on the planet.”


Hey! I’m Colleen, a final year zoology student at the University of Salford, Manchester, and I have been working at the museum vivarium for over a year. Most of my time is spent behind the scenes assisting with the care and maintenance of the animals we have in the collection. The work involves a lot of cleaning (not everyone’s idea of a good time), but also allows me to work with some of the planets most amazing and often rare species. There is always something new to come in to, whether that’s the hatchling geckos or breeding some very beautiful and rare tarantulas.
 As well as my work behind the scenes, I also assist in public events such as the ‘big Saturday’. Events such as these, allow myself and the other volunteers to share our knowledge and passion for our wonderful animals with the public. Many of the animals we have are under threat of extinction, and a lot of our work is focused on public awareness to the threats these animals face, and the tireless conservation efforts undertaken to protect them. The work also gives me the opportunity to work with some great people – Adam, who has an extensive knowledge of all forms of life from geckos to tarantulas, Andrew the curator at the forefront of amphibian conservation, and of course, all of the other volunteers who dedicate a few precious hours of their time each week to help care for the collection.’

‘Hi, Im Alicia. I’m a second year Zoology student and have been volunteering at the Museum since the end of my 1st year. Along with other volunteers, I help give tours of the Vivarium to help inform people about the amazing work being carried out with all the animals. These are not just pretty to look at, they all have amazing adaptations and lives that make them unique. Unfortunately, most are facing extinction in the wild because so little is known about them and nothing is being done to protect them. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be helping out here, as we get to learn from experts and also get hands-on experience with some of the most fascinating creatures on earth!  My favorite part of the job? Sharing my enthusiasm with people when giving the tours, letting them know about the  great things happening in the vivarium,  – and how well-looked after the animals are!’


My name is Xaali O’Reilly, I’m a second year Zoology student at the University of Manchester and volunteer at the Manchester Museum’s stunning vivarium. Essentially what I do is clean out frog tanks. Perhaps not everybody’s cup of tea. But really, volunteering at the vivarium means a lot more than just that. It means hands on experience maintaining exotic – and often rare – reptiles and amphibians (there’s tarantulas too!); it’s an amazing opportunity to learn not only about the care and needs of these animals in captivity, but also about their biology, the threats they face in the wild, and their conservation. I usually work with Adam Bland, who is a well of knowledge on anything scaly, amphibious, or many-hairy-legged, and of course curator of herpetology Andrew Gray oversees the collection and will answer any questions! There’s much to be learned much from Matt Wilson and Colleen Keane too, who also work and volunteer, respectively, at the viv.

Basically, you get to work with and learn from people that really know their stuff, while helping to keep intriguing and beautiful animals well and happy!

On top of that, having always had an interest in graphic design, I’m delighted to have been able to produce some posters to advertise the gallery tours of the vivarium (Thursdays 12:00-13:00 – book one now, they’re free!), run by other volunteers.


‘Hi everyone, I’m Olivia and I’m one of the vivarium volunteers. I go to the museum once a week for a few hours and do the basic but very necessary work of cleaning the frogs’ tanks. This might not sound very interesting to some, but I’ve been volunteering here since I started my Zoology degree and I’m now halfway through my second year. Each Friday’s different; with the extensive breeding programmes, new arrivals are frequent and one of my favourite things about volunteering is being able to watch tree frog and poison frog tadpoles develop slowly from the egg. The current refurbishment of the Amazon tank is another exciting current project and it’ll be really great to see the frogs enjoying it when it’s finished. I also sometimes get to help Andrew with the talks he does – next month I’ll be helping with the special first year Zoology museum session, which last year I attended as a student. 

Aside from being a great opportunity to spend time with live animals – something which can be tricky in Manchester! -working with Andrew and Adam means I learn something new every time about the animals we care for, which is a clear bonus for a zoologist. It’s also great to have the chance to observe differences in behaviour between the species as I spend progressively more time with them; for example some of our charges have a Houdini streak and like jumping onto faces while their housing’s being cleaned, which can be somewhat distracting..not lost any so far though! Fingers crossed.’


‘Hi, I’m Emma and I’ve been volunteering at the museum vivarium since September ’09.  I’m a second year zoology student at the University of Manchester and initially heard about the volunteer programme in a first year practical Andrew held for us at the museum.  I volunteer every Tuesday afternoon with Matt Wilson and my role generally involves cleaning out the tropical frog enclosures, sorting the food (cricket) delivery and feeding a variety of the animals including the iguanas, monitor lizards and river toads.  Having done previous work experience with reptiles at Blackpool Zoo, I find it fascinating to now be seeing how things are done in an establishment with a much heavier and active focus on research and conservation.  Several of the frog species at the vivarium are (or were when the vivarium started) very rare, so it’s great to be able to contribute to their welfare even with basic tasks and there is huge opportunity to learn about the animals whilst doing the volunteering.  There is also the chance to get more involved with the vivarium’s activities the longer you are there which is great and there are always new things happening to keep you occupied.’


One Response

  1. Hi Mille
    That’s amazing, I love your frog blog!
    Saskia xxx

    COMMENT IN RELATION TO: https://frogblogmanchester.com/about/millies-page/

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