Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Monkeying around hot work but fun

In a reversal of roles Tesnar Daniels gets a hug from  Monty the Monkey at Westfield Mall. Photo /  Greg Bowker
In a reversal of roles Tesnar Daniels gets a hug from Monty the Monkey at Westfield Mall. Photo / Greg Bowker

Tesnar Daniels isn't a hugger.

"Usually I'm not really an affectionate person because that's just not me," said the 19-year-old university student.

However, that changes as soon as Ms Daniels arrives for a shift at Westfield, where she works for Luminary Promotions as a mascot, a job which requires the donning of a full-body suit including a head piece.

Ms Daniels said the anonymity of the costumes brought out a new side of her personality.

"When I'm in the suit I actually really love interacting with people and I don't mind giving a bit of a cuddle because that's the job.

"I definitely change, I'm more affectionate, I interact more with people and I don't mind it."

Ms Daniels has been working as a mascot on the weekends for the best part of a year, and she said she loved her job.

"It's really hot, but I love the job because I love seeing other people happy.

It's the best thing ever."

Most shifts, Ms Daniels works as Monty the Monkey, Westfield's mascot, but she has also donned suits to play Snoopy and the Madagascar Penguins.

It was the penguins which first drew her to the job, she said.

"The first job I ever did was doing kids' activities [at Westfield] and then I saw the penguins come out and I just asked my boss, how can I do that?"

She still counts her first job in the penguin suit as one of the best she's ever done, but it's Monty the kids love the most.

"Monty's really popular at Westfield, everybody knows about him. The kids get really happy when they meet Monty, they ask for cuddles, high fives and their faces just light up.

"Last week, at the opening of Manukau Westfield, this one kid she was following me around all day, she actually thought Monty was her best friend. It was the cutest thing ever."

Because her whole face is obscured, Ms Daniels said expressive body language was essential to do the job well.

Dancing, waving and opening her arms up for hugs were the main ways she interacted with shoppers.

Part of a mascot's character is keeping quiet, but sometimes this could be hard, Ms Daniels said.

"I always get the giggles, some of the kids are really cute or funny and you can't help but smile."

- NZ Herald

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