An animal expert and passionate fan of the natural world has been appointed to join the talented team at St Andrews Aquarium. Christie Dewar-Holmes, 26, has joined the aquarium’s talks team, leading presentations about the various animals to visitors.
Christie’s appointment marks an exciting period for the Fife-based aquarium which welcomed tens of thousands of visitors over a busy summer period. The visitor attraction also recently completed a series of upgrades to its amphibian and invertebrate enclosures which have enabled the aquarium to create mini ecosystems with more plants and green spaces to create more of a natural habitat for the animals.
From Kirkcaldy, Christie’s lifelong “obsession” with the animal world led her to study Animal Biology at Edinburgh Napier University and seek out opportunities that involved working with animals.
“When I was a teenager, I started a small business as a pet sitter to supplement my income. I’ve also worked in catteries and volunteered at a bunch of places including a butterfly house. I volunteered at Edinburgh Zoo while I was studying which has led to a seasonal job there and I work for Vets Now as an Animal Care Assistant. I’ve loved working at St Andrews Aquarium too because I’ve been able to work with so many different animals and the staff have been so welcoming.”
While Christie is clearly in her element working closely with the many different animals, presenting in front of large numbers of people can be more of a challenge. Christie explained:
“I have autism and, when I was younger, I could be quite awkward at times. I worked on this by performing in theatre productions when I was growing up and they gave me the confidence to talk in front of people. That early experience combined with being knowledgeable about the animals makes it a lot easier to present talks.”
Originally a volunteer at the aquarium, Christie’s enthusiasm, knowledge and easy rapport with visitors meant the aquarium team were keen to keep her around.
John Mace, Managing Director at St Andrews Aquarium, said:
“We are delighted to have someone of Christie’s calibre join our brilliant talks team. Her boundless enthusiasm and insight into the animals makes for an exciting and hugely educational experience for our visitors. We have added more talks this summer so there are more opportunities than ever before for the public to engage with our talks team and the animals during a visit.”
Expert talks and feedings take place throughout the day including reptile handling, monkey and seal feedings and talks and meerkat and penguin feedings. When asked her favourite animals to present talks on, it’s not an easy choice for Christie. She added:
“There’s so many exotic species to explore and enjoy here at St Andrews Aquarium. I do, however, have a soft spot for our Harbour Seals – they are so intelligent! In particular, little Dug the seal is wonderful to work with.”
St Andrews Aquarium is open seven days a week from 10:00am – 6:00pm, with last entry at 5.00pm.