Hayley de Ronde - Animal Welfare & Behaviour Specialist
I am qualified to HND level in Animal Management and have over 10 years professional, practical experience working with a wide range of species, within a variety of disciplines.
A HND is deemed by The Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales & Northern Ireland (FHEQ ) a Level 4/5 qualification. For more information on what my qualification level means, please visit, www.direct.gov.uk
I have worked within the field of animal management my entire career and am fortunate to have worked with a vast range of species, as well as with some of the leading names within the animal industry. My qualifications, ability and experience are what qualify me to be able to provide this unique service.My interest in animal behaviour began in childhood, when I first questioned what made animals behave the way they did.
I grew up, surrounded by animals in the rolling hills of Bedfordshire and spent much of my time as a young girl volunteering at local farms, stables, vets, kennels and rescue organisations in order to gain experience and knowledge within the field. At school, I was accepted for work experience at Woburn Safari Park, which led me into a weekend job at Woodside Farm & Leisure Park. I was also privileged to receive the opportunity to spend several months "shadowing" the local vet at Noah's Ark Veterinary Clinic, in order to gain more of an insight into veterinary science.
I left school to complete a BTEC National Diploma in Animal Management at Shuttleworth College, continuing to study a Higher National Diploma in Animal Management. These 2 year residential courses, provide full-time, written and hands on vocational learning, covering areas including; Animal Behaviour, Breeding & Nutrition, Anatomy and Physiology, Principles of Animal Science, Animal Nursing, Animal Health & Welfare, Practical Animal Handling & Management, Management of Exotics, Care & Welfare of Farm Livestock and Dog Training. Whilst at Shuttleworth, I also completed a Centra certificate in Small Animal Handling (run through Writtle College).
I began my full time career as a Zoo Keeper at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, working with some of the UK's leading animal experts. I worked with a range of wild animals, Including; Wolves, Cheetah, Brown Bear, Lesser Primates, Reptiles, Aquatics, Parrots and Birds of Prey. It was here, I began to apply the knowledge I had learnt, and began to understand the unique complexities of animal behaviour. Whilst working at Whipsnade I was privileged to be involved in breeding and release programmes for two endangered British Species (the Barberry Carpet Moth and the Corncrake) and learnt insights into the skills and techniques required to train animals for public displays.
I later took a position at Africa Alive, where I studied an Level 3 Diploma in Zoo Animal Management. I worked with several different species, including; Fossas, Servals, Meerkats, Otters, Striped Hyaenas, Chimps, Lemurs, Foxes, Aardvark, Porcupine, Mongoose and Spider Monkeys. All of which required an in depth knowledge and understanding of animal behaviour to ensure the best possible welfare standards. Training techniques such as; Target training – where an animal has to locate a target for a reward, or Recall – Rewarding animals for returning on command, proved vital tools that provided environmental enrichment and aided behaviour modification. I was involved in crate training the hyaenas for transport and developed an underwater cage feeder for our otters that proved a huge success! I was also affectionately named "The Serval Queen" by my Boss, for my ability to get an otherwise uncooperative wild cat to bed, willingly on command!
My love for animal behaviour and training then took me to Crossroads Kennels & Cattery, as manager & head trainer. This large boarding and rescue establishment catered for all breeds and temperaments (including aggressive or unsociable dogs, usually declined by other establishments). This is where I first began to successfully apply my understanding of behaviour modification on a more practical level. I would provide behavioural assessment, individual training and rehabilitation for rescue dogs, as well as providing individual training and obedience classes for members of the public.
My final position before embarking on a self-employed career was within animal research, working in the field of Immunology, Genetics and Neurology, where a deep understanding of animal welfare & behaviour was vital to ensure happy, healthy animals and accurate results. It was here I studied a Level 3 certificate in Animal Science, held a Home Office PIL (modules 1-4) and held membership with the IAT. I have been privileged to work alongside some of the UK's leading scientists; collaborating on several projects that made ground-breaking advances, and with colleagues that have helped re-shape the way animal welfare was viewed within science. I was kindly provided with an opportunity indulge my interests, being asked to source, research and investigate into the possible benefits of new and unique environmental enrichment products. An in-house enrichment experiment that yielded both interesting and positive results.
More recently my interest turned to the rising exotic pet population and the limited resources and support systems that are available to the owners of these pets. It dawned on me that the best use of my skills, knowledge and experience, would not be to provide yet another service tailored to meet the specific needs of dogs and other common companion animals, but to provide a service that is available to the owners of the more exotic or unusual pet and thus the concept of Let's Talk Pets began!