I managed to score a weeks worth of work experience at Taronga
Zoo in Sydney. It was a great week full of raking, feeding,
playing and general hard work.
I ended up in the Australian Mammals division, which is probably
the best out of them all because you get to actually go in and
hang out with the animals. Unlucky for the person who was in
the Carnivores division, they would get no cuddling at all.
first hour of work experience saw me raking up koala poop and
hosing down dirty walls. Awesome. But honestly, it wasn’t that
bad, especially when I was in the enclosures with the fluffy
little baby koalas. There were plenty of photo opportunities
and my supervisor told me some interesting things about koalas,
such as the fact that they have two thumbs on their front paws
(which I think would happen to be pretty convenient if you were
a koala) and an extra claw on their back paw which is basically
just used for scratching.
of the highlights was working in the Nocturnal House. There
was a friendly little Ringtail Possum by the name of “Miss”
that liked to climb on people’s shoulders, and I had the chance
to pat and feed the Bilbies. Feeding the Tawny Frogmouths was
quite an interesting experience. They can fly without the slightest
sound which makes you feel extremely paranoid when you’re walking
around with them. You could turn around and it would be eyeing
you from a branch without you even realising it had moved. I
fed one a mouse and it managed to get my finger as well and
sort of hung from my hand for a bit looking stunned. Fortunately
they are quite gentle creatures so my finger was alright.
Feathertail Gliders were probably the coolest animals I got
to interact with. We had to go into a small room so we wouldn’t
lose them. Those little critters weigh about 13 grams when they
are fully grown, which is less than 3 teaspoons of water, while
baby Feathertails are smaller than half a grain of rice. It
was very amusing to sit down and watch while they jumped around
from person to person.
for me, it rained for nearly the whole week I was there. I always
imagined Zoo Keepers to have pretty relaxed jobs, getting up
close with the animals and strolling around the enclosures,
but during my week there I have come to the conclusion that
that is not the case. Keepers have to go out and do their jobs
rain, hail or shine. So on my second day of work experience,
I was out in the rain, soaking wet and digging out a pond. All
part of the job really.
jobs I took part in were mulching, preparing food, raking, feeding
Tree Kangaroos which had just moved house and were quite suspicious
of people, moving rocks, more raking, shovelling, sifting mealworms,
leaf blowing and yet more raking.
in all, my week at Taronga Zoo was great one. I danced with
a Brolga, played with possums and had a Tawny Frogmouth eat
my hand. That’s not something you get to do everyday now is