School of Science, Engineering & Environment 24.07.21

GRADUATION 2021: Salford student realises dream job on zoo placement

‘Monkeying around’ usually wouldn’t help to achieve a degree, but in the case of Zoology student, Emma Ridgway working with and studying primates was the key to a remarkable university experience.  

In her four years studying a BSc in Zoology at the University of Salford, Emma completed a placement at Jersey Zoo working in the small mammal department and wrote her dissertation on the subject of dental topography in primates with the opportunity for her research to be published.  

Her hard work has rewarded her with a First-Class degree, but the journey to graduation wasn’t always so clear. 

When asked about her choice to study at Salford, Emma said: “I originally started my degree at Liverpool John Moores University, but the homesickness was real, so I decided to move to a university closer to home. Salford made the switch super easy, the lecturers are so supportive. 

“I’m really glad I switched. Salford has felt like a second home for the past four years and I don’t think I could’ve managed to thrive as much if I stayed at another university.” 

All Zoology students at the University are given the opportunity to participate in a placement year as part of their studies. After applying for a position at Jersey Zoo Emma was delighted to discover she had been welcomed to the zookeeping team and would be working in the small mammal department.  

The placement not only gave her a hands-on chance to work in an industry position, but it also guided her towards deciding what she wanted to do in the future. 

“That’s where I fell in love with zookeeping and primates,” she explained. “I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else now. Ultimately I want to become a primate keeper at a zoo.” 

The experience she gained on placement also helped to inform her choice of dissertation subject. She added: “I jumped at the opportunity. Working with the small primates at Jersey Zoo helped me understand feeding habits and physiology which was a key part of my research. I found my dissertation topic so interesting.” 

Reflecting on her time at Salford, she mentioned how it had prepared her to enter the industry and commented: “In my final year we had tons of interview prep, including mock interviews as well as workshops made available that we could take part in even after we had finished studying.  

“Salford is an amazing university for helping people prepare for the future. The Professors at Salford genuinely want their students to be the best they can be.” 

Emma Ridgway