Chrissy Joester : Volunteer Extraordinaire
Reporting back on her 'roar-some' experience
The journey to Project Roar started when the call was put out in our consultant newsletter, when I read the information on the project I emailed straight away and was first on the list to be going. I was so eager and keen I had to wait for The Body Shop Foundation to still finalise their details! As soon as paperwork was done I paid the deposit and that meant it was all real, I was going to be a part of the challenge.
We then had to fundraise; the trip was to be totally self-funded. With help from family and friends we held two bingo nights and had more than enough to get me there. It was so satisfying to pay the remainder of the trip in one go. I was not only the only one from The Body Shop at Home Australia but the only person from Australia who was a part of this challenge.
The challenge was an amazing experience; it was tough both physically and mentally; hearing the stories of so many cats that have suffered neglect and abuse. I cannot fathom how anyone can do that to such beautiful animals and why anyone would think they would make a nice pet. I feel like we gave back and what we did really made a difference. As a group we leveled out a huge amount of soil for two new bobcat rehabilitation cages. The rehabilitation part of Big Cat Rescue is something I really enjoy, to be able to help and get ones back to the wild is the most incredible thing. Looking back on the hard work I could just imagine in time to come bobcats will be able to learn to hunt and run and get back to the wild, the best outcome for rescued cats. I gained so many friends on the challenge; it was great to be around like-minded people all fighting for the same cause.
Project Roar was a five day challenge but my time with Big Cat Rescue was not at an end, with persistence I gained another 2 weeks as an intern because of what The Body Shop have helped with BCR. I was to do an online “zoo college” course and stay as an intern leaning more and gaining more invaluable experience and helping big cats. This was the most amazing experience. Yes I’m going to say amazing once more because this trip was really.. amazing! I took part in food preparation, cleaning procedures and even backed up tours. Going on two tours myself was a great experience too; there is a Keeper tour and feeding tour. If I was to recommend any tours it would be the Keeper Tour you get to do and see so much as well as create enrichment for the cats. Constructing lockout cages for the new tigers that have arrived and assisting with den preparation was something great to be a part of, there is a method for everything and I loved learning off Gale, the Operations Manager and my boss for the time here by myself. I helped collect data collection for Howard, it’s a secret what it’s going to be used for but I’m petty proud I got a chance to be a part of it! Moving many of the big cats from different enclosures, to and from vacation enclosures and to and from hospitals was an amazing experience. I helped with servals, bobcats and cougars; being so close to such beauty is incredible. I also got to take part, assist and observe medical procedures on different cougars. I have a paw print to remember my time I was able to help with Mac the cougar.
This experience was one of a lifetime. I had so many emotions running on my last day there. I had so many opportunities that I never thought I would get to do. Being a zoologist with the ultimate goal of helping big cats came true through Project Roar and my opportunity after the project. Being there and seeing so much work that goes to keeping these beautiful big cats only makes me strive to continue to make a difference in any way I can.
This experience has also carved more of my future path, I wish to continue in activism and conservation work spreading the news and teaching everyone about the plight of big cats and ending abuse!
Thanks to Chrissy and all our wonderful ‘Project Roar’ Challengers – you were all incredible and helped so much. We were incredibly proud of the effort that each and every one of you put into the challenge – both fundraising and volunteering on the actual week.
These challenges don’t build character – they reveal it and every challenger revealed their enthusiasm, drive and passion for this incredibly worthy cause. If you’d like to get involved with the work of Big Cat Rescue and change laws, please click the link to their website here and get involved!