Society Spotlight: Zoo Soc

Ella-Bleu Kiely speaks with Zoo Soc President Isabel Quinn on the unapologetically animal mad society

“Appreciate the greatness of animals, but also leave them alone.” This is the main message which Trinity’s own Zoological Society (Zoo Soc) wishes to communicate. Zoo Soc was founded in 1974, and has since come to describe themselves as being “unapologetically animal mad.” The society aims to constantly raise awareness towards matters of animal welfare and husbandry both on and off campus, and also biodiversity. Speaking with the society’s Chairperson, Isabel Quinn, on an autumn bank holiday Monday, we discussed her involvement in Zoo Soc, the society’s environmental action, and care for animals. 

“You don’t have to be a diehard zoology fan, you just have to like and appreciate animals and Zoo Soc will have something for you,” Quinn stated. Quinn, a third year Zoology student, has been part of Zoo Soc since Freshers’ Week 2019 when a snake at the society’s stall lured her in. “I saw it and was just like ‘that’s so so cool’. Honestly, the main thing I really felt in first year was how welcoming everybody was… Maybe it’s just something about people who love animals,” she explained happily. 

This year, as chairperson, Quinn would “like to get more discussion going around animal rights”, as it’s something the society always encourages. “For example, people think they can go and feed the deer in the Phoenix Park which you just cannot. We had a walk in the Phoenix Park a while ago and we kept our fifty meters, but there were so many families letting kids feed and pet the deer.” This causes competition amongst the deer, resulting in injuries and high stress levels. Their natural cycle of grazing, ruminating, sleeping and socialising is interrupted. 

“People also seem not to know that solitary bees burrow under the ground,” Quinn mentioned. She passionately went on to explain that even on our very own campus we have a few solitary bees nests, which not a lot of students are aware of. “I don’t think many people know that you can’t stand on those as there is a nest underneath. The very fact that on our own campus we have these issues shows we should always be trying to spread awareness to them.” 

“‘It’s really important to appreciate the bees but leave them to do their job. Plant the wildflowers but leave the grass to grow a little longer.'”

Trinity’s campus is growing into a biodiversity hub, and Zoo Soc is taking full advantage of this. “I did an internship over the summer on biodiversity on campus and we’re soon hoping to organise a biodiversity walk with the head groundskeeper David Hackett which we’d love,” Quinn revealed. During this year the society is also aiming to set up a moth trap on campus: “You wouldn’t think that you’d get many moths in the city centre — you’d be surprised, it’s cool.” The Zoo Soc chairperson expressed that she feels “biodiversity” is a buzzword this year, and “it’s really important to appreciate the bees but leave them to do their job. Plant the wildflowers but leave the grass to grow a little longer.” 

A solid understanding of animal treatment and education is pivotal to the society, and is one of their core goals. “During every talk we hold it always comes up and it’s just so important. I think our society could bring it to the forefront even more by holding tailored talks,” Quinn said. Zoo Soc are hoping to invite Dogs Trust Ireland to host an event where dogs can come onto campus and students can learn how to correctly handle them. “Perhaps even dog owners wouldn’t properly know! Even just reading the animal’s body language is something everyone should be aware of.”

“Many of us enjoyed the petting zoo on campus this Freshers Week — getting to hold a little rabbit or walk a goat may have made your day that bit better.”

Many of us enjoyed the petting zoo on campus this Freshers Week — getting to hold a little rabbit or walk a goat may have made your day that bit better. Zoo Soc are aiming to get animals on campus a lot more frequently this year as “people loved being so close to animals. It’s very meaningful.” She continued, stating that “Obviously, when we bring animals onto campus, welfare is paramount and we’re going to work super hard to make sure that all the animals are given enough rest time and we stick to rules.” 

There was truly such a niceness in hearing and learning about a community who prides themselves in the welfare of animals and their environments. “Animals need to be appreciated and respected, and sometimes from the correct distance. They’re living creatures, and there’s always a certain way to handle and deal with them,” the Zoo Soc chairperson summarised. 

Ella-Bleu Kiely

Ella-Bleu Kiely is the current Societies Editor of Trinity News, and a Junior Sophister Classics and English Literature student.