Amy Weller in the lion enclosure Hello Great West Way Ambassador! Please introduce yourself:
My name is Amy Waller and I am the Team Manager of Carnivores at Longleat, Warminster.  

Tell us a little more about what you do:
I lead a team of fantastic keepers and together we look after all the carnivores in the Safari Park, including the lions, tigers, cheetah, hyena and wolves.
 
What do you love most about your job?
Every day is unique. While there are some things that happen every day such as animal health and safety checks, there’s also lots of changing elements of my role, for example, helping guests to enjoy their visit, training team members or new starters and bringing new species in to the Safari Park.

Every animal has its own personality too, and I really treasure the times I get to interact with them and observe them. I love being able to meet our guests, hear about their experiences and help them understand more about our animals, the species and their personalities. 
 
How did you get started? Has it been a long journey getting to where you are today?
I studied landscape architecture at university and have always had a keen interest in animals, their welfare and their environments. Like most of the employees at Longleat, I’ve worked my way up the career ladder, starting off as a Seasonal Patrol Person, moving on to Section Manager and, for the last couple of years, Team Manager for the Carnivore Section. 
 
What achievements are you most proud of?
My proudest moment was learning that our cheetah, Wilma and Carl, had successfully mated; for the first time ever at Longleat we’d had a litter of cubs born. Cheetah are classed as vulnerable as there are less than 7,000 in the wild and this important achievement contributes to the European Endangered species programme of breeding population. Longleat Cheetahs What’s a typical day like for you?
There really isn’t a typical day. Each one is so varied, ranging from leading our morning team briefing, cleaning out the animal houses, ensuring that we’re ready to open to the public and designing enrichment activities for our animals, to planning team development opportunities and training and assisting guests who may have broken down, or taken ill during their visit. There is also, of course, lots of paperwork, administration and office duties.  

What do you find inspiring day-to-day? What keeps the enthusiasm going?
My team, the guests and our fabulous animals are what inspires me on a daily basis but more broadly, it’s the action that Longleat undertakes that contributes to the various programmes (awareness and education, breeding and fundraising)  that help protect animal species worldwide.
 
Do you have any insider tips or advice for travellers who want to experience the route from Bristol to London ‘like a local’? 
I was born in Somerset, but have lived in Wiltshire most of my life and this is one of the most scenic, wildlife filled areas I know. One of my top tips would be to make the most of the wealth of information that’s available at our finger tips to help you research and learn about the area you’ll pass through. If you can, stop off and visit some of the fabulous attractions and heritage sites, make the most of local knowledge by visiting tourist information sites and do the journey more than once, at different times of the year. The landscape changes through seasons, as does the wildlife you can see. And at Longleat, our programme of activity changes throughout the year too. Have a dig in to the history of the places you’ll visit. There is so much to learn whilst you’re on your journey.

What’s your favourite thing to eat or drink locally (can be a meal, a local delicacy or a favourite tipple)? Any cafes, restaurants or pubs you can recommend?
Ooh, that’s a hard question because there are so many local, independent places to eat and drink. If I had to choose, then it would have to be a Somerset cider like Thatchers, but there are also so many great, locally brewed ales too. As for where to eat, one of my favourite things to do is to pack a picnic and find a pretty spot along the route, to sit and take in the scenery. I tend to pack some locally produced cheese, rustic bread and some homemade treats.Red and Yana the Tigers
 If you could choose one must-visit attraction along the route from Bristol to London, what would it be and why? 
Of course it would have to be Longleat, because as I look around the park, I see so many guests smiling, being delighted by their experiences. It’s also a place where all the family can get together and enjoy something new each time they visit because of the diversity of what’s on offer here and because of its accessibility. 

Whether it’s our animals, the wonderful Longleat House and its 450 year history, the beautiful gardens or the interactive experiences that are all across the park, there really is something for everyone. 
 
What do you think will surprise first-time visitors about the route from Bristol to London?
Its diversity; the hustle and bustle of heritage market towns like Devizes, the peace and tranquility of places like Lacock Abbey, the scenery as you travel through Cheddar and the immensity of Cheddar Gorge & Caves. The area offers such variety and contrast. 

What’s your preferred mode of transport: train, car, bus or boat? Why?
I like to drive as this provides the opportunity to explore areas some of the villages and towns that aren’t on the railway lines. I also enjoy taking a train for some of the longer journeys as it gives me time to take in the scenery. 

Any exciting plans for the future you’d like to share? 
I’ll definitely be exploring some more of the Great West Way myself as I know I’ve only seen a part of what’s on offer. Work wise, I hope that this year we’ll see some new babies born in the Carnivore Section.
Lioness roaming around the lion enclosureFor more information on Longeat and what you can do in and around Wiltshire, take a look at our See and Do and Plan Your Way pages. 

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