Every year, the third Friday in May is Endangered Species Day, inspiring thousands of people around the world to celebrate, learn about, and take action to protect threatened species.

Every day at the Oasis is some kind of Endangered Species Day, including from before it even existed.

As young keepers at Chester Zoo, Dave and Jo Marsden, our founders, loved their jobs, but shared a growing desire to engage more directly for wildlife and conservation.

Fascinated by every kind of animal, in their first years together they were able to travel and witness some of the great wildlife spectacles.

When I asked Jo about their experiences of camping out on their own on the African savanna, she agreed it was mind blowing, but not just for the spectacles one might imagine.

They were just as thrilled with the “small fry”: a furry face peering out from under a bush, a kingfisher landing on a nearby tree stump, even fireflies flitting around the campfire.

Knowing Jo and Dave, I can understand how the unexpected small creatures got them just as excited as the ‘”big five”- probably more so.

Learning from local conservationists about the devastation being inflicted on indigenous wildlife ignited a fire that neither lack of money or experience couldn’t dampen, leading to the creation of the Oasis, 30 years ago.

Their twin aims were to help endangered wildlife through participation in conservation programmes, through engaging and educating the public about the amazing natural world, and the impact we all have on it.

This is why people find unusual, and not just spectacular or ‘pretty’ animals at the Oasis.

They’ll be here to participate in breeding programmes, engage, educate, enthuse and inspire visitors, and hopefully with animals like wonderful Madagascan fossa Mango, or our admittedly spectacular snow leopards.

But Jo, Dave and keepers alike get as enthused by programmes for native wildlife, like our most recent additions, Scottish wildcats. Jo won’t mention it, but the zoo won an award for helping conserve the British fen raft spider; a small victory maybe, but definitely one with legs.