Elfie Ringrose doesn’t really have a favourite zoo animal.
When the long-time volunteer at The Greater Vancouver Zoo (GVZ) in Aldergrove is asked, she mentions the Red Panda, the giraffe, and the hippos, then interrupts herself to say all the zoo animals are “very nice in their own way” and to make it clear that she does not have any hands-on contact with them.
Ringrose, who has worked over over 1,460 hours since 2007, was recently awarded Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums Volunteer of the Year Award.
Announced at the national conference in Ottawa, the award recognizes the valuable short or long-term contribution a volunteer has made to a member institution of CAZA/AZAC.
“It was a surprise,” Ringrose said.
She works behind the scenes at the GVZ, coming in twice a week.
On Wednesday, she works on food prep.
“If I help out with that, the keepers have more time (with the animals).” she says.
On Fridays, she cleans the painted turtles pen.
She is a retired professional cleaner who was talked into volunteering by a friend.
“Elfie has become one of our most reliable volunteers through the years and faithfully tends to her duties every Wednesday and Friday morning and is happy to assist anytime supplemental assistance is required” said GVZ animal care manager Menita Prasad.
“Elfie is a fabulous role model for zoo staff and other volunteers and we are honoured she chooses to volunteer her time with us.”
Last year, Ringrose was named the zoo’s Volunteer of the Year award as voted by her peers.
The GVZ also announced that the zoo has passed another five-year accreditation inspection conducted by members of Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums.
“Accreditation means that GVZ upholds and adheres to the highest standard of animal care, safety and education as determined by the foremost professionals in the zoological and aquarium field,” a zoo statement said.
”Furthermore, it showcases that GVZ plays a critical role in supporting species conservation and biodiversity. “