Alistair Keen, BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology)

'I truly believe it has helped shape who I am today.'
Alistair Keen

Current role

I am working as Head Keeper at Birdland Park & Gardens where I am responsible for the management of nearly 500 birds including the only group of King Penguins currently in the UK. We also house flamingos, pelicans, owls, parrots, touracos, storks and cranes amongst many others. As head keeper I'm responsible for a team of 4 as well as keeping animal records, working with other collections and being responsible for volunteers/work experience and health and safety. I started here as a trainee Bird Keeper in November 2001 having graduated in August of the same year.

Outline the course you studied at the University of Birmingham and how it benefited you?

I did a 3 year course in Animal Biology [Now BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology)], gaining a 2.2. This helped me immensely in getting a job in the competitive world of zoo keeping.

How did you find your first year in Birmingham?

Birmingham was ideal distance from home, close enough to get back but far enough away! We had visited the Campus with school during A Levels and was very impressed with the facilities.

How did going to University as a whole benefit you?

Uni taught me how to work (and play!) hard. That first experience of living away from home and meeting new people is a big thing and I truly believe it has helped shape who I am today.

How did you find campus life?

The campus was great with all the facilities you need all within walking distance. Lots of areas of activity but if you wanted peace and quiet then there were plenty of places to go. If you wanted to get into the city centre then the trains and buses were readily available.

How did you find living in Birmingham?

I really enjoyed it. Being a country boy I expected lots of hustle and bustle but the Campus and Selly Oak at large was relatively peaceful. We were fortunate that we had a park nearby and all the amenities you needed were in easy reach.

Did you join any student societies during your studies?

I didn't join any groups but took part in a couple of course field trips that were well organised and run.

Any tips to pass on to students thinking of coming here?

Do it, great location, great campus, great facilities, great city. I still come back and meet with one of my housemates at least twice a year.

What are your aspirations for the future?

To work with more exotic species and to continue to work in breeding programmes to preserve endangered species.