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Australian Reptile Park celebrates International Zookeeper Day
The Australian Reptile Park is today (4th October) celebrating International Zookeeper Day in recognition of the valuable contribution their zookeepers make to the care and conservation of their animals. Through the efforts of Zookeepers, guests are educated about how to help in the conservation of animals in danger of becoming extinct.
Many of the Australian Reptile Park's animals build life-long relationships with the keepers with many animals that were hand raised by certain keepers responding to their voice for many years. Keepers often undertake manual labour each and every day, maintaining exhibits to ensure their animals are living well-fed, enriched lives, and of course, cleaning the large amount of faeces the animals expel daily.
Reptile Keeper Brandon Gifford noted "bing a zookeeper is arguably one of the best, most rewarding jobs in the world. You know you’re working towards a great cause with conservation programs to help ensure the survival of some species.
“Along with that, there’s the fun in teaching a little kid about our antivenom program or watching them hold their first snake. It’s about teaching people to respect the wonderful animals we have.”
General Manager, Tim Faulkner added “I would proudly say that here at the Australian Reptile Park, we have some of the most hardworking, passionate zookeepers in the industry. We would be lost without them and the special bond they have with every animal that calls our sanctuary home.
“Between playing an integral role saving endangered species through breeding programs and educating our guests about wildlife and feeding and cleaning up after all our animals, they do an amazing job. We’re a family here, who share a passion for Australian wildlife, I’m so proud of the hard work they do every day.”
Zookeepers are professionals who devote their lives to saving species by way of conservation and breeding programs, education outreach, and work tirelessly to save many endangered and threatened species internationally.
The Zookeepers at The Australian Reptile Park take part in conservation breeding programs for endangered species, saving lives (and risking their lives at the same time) through the venomous snake and spider milking programs.
Bower started off as a volunteer at The Australian Reptile Park in 2012. He then went on to become a casual zookeeper the following year and started as Venom Supervisor in 2017 after completing venomous snake training. His work milking over 100 snakes a week for the antivenom program saves more than 300 lives a year! The Australian Reptile Park is the sole supplier of terrestrial snake venom to make into snake antivenom, so everyone in Australia who has been bitten by a venomous snake has Bower to thank for saving their life!
Bower looks after the 250 venomous snakes that live at the Australian Reptile Park and earlier this year won “Best Paper” at the annual Australasian Society of Zookeepers Conference for his talk on the snake milking technique of pipetting on Eastern brown snakes. Bower has more recently also been nominated for Young Employee of the year by the Central Coast Business Awards.
The Koala Whisperer
Shute began working at the Australian Reptile Park in the late 1990s and has moved up the ranks to become one of the Curators of the Park. Shute is very hands-on with the conservation breeding programs that the Park takes part in and this year has spearheaded the most successful breeding seasons seen in the Park’s koala and Tasmanian devil projects with 7 and 69 joeys respectively.
Shute also hand-raises joeys that have been orphaned and is currently looking after a 7-month-old koala joey named Elsa. She had to rush to the joey’s aid at when it was discovered that Elsa’s mother had stopped producing milk. Elsa stayed with Shute 24/7 and requires 7 bottle feeds a day, including one at 2am! Elsa is now being prepared to be introduced the other koala joeys in the coming months.
The Reptile Expert
Brandon is one of the newer Zookeepers at The Australian Reptile Park, starting a year ago as a full-time Reptile Keeper. Brandon has years of experience working in similar facilities and has an undeniable passion for animals which you can see in his shows.
Brandon often hosts the Reptile Show and Funnel-Web spider milking and will stop everything to talk to guests about their wildlife experiences or answer questions. Videos featuring Brandon online have received over half a million views, with his bright personality and his passion for the care of animals shining through the screen.
First celebrated in 2015, International Zookeeper Day is marked each year on 4th October by the International Congress of Zookeepers.
More information at www.reptilepark.com.au
All images supplied by The Australian Reptile Park
25th September 2019 - The Australian Reptile Park introduces eight Tasmanian Devil Joeys
6th August 2019 - Australian Reptile Park secures NSW Major Tourist Attraction award
17th April 2019 - Spider venom record broken at the Australian Reptile Park
28th January 2019 - Australian Reptile Park becomes first NSW zoo to receive an endangered numbat
29th November 2018 - Australian Reptile Park Wins 2018 NSW Business Of The Year
7th July 2018 - Australian Reptile Park welcomes record koala breeding season
19th September 2017 - Australian Reptile Park recognised as world’s deadliest zoo
31st July 2017 - World Ranger Day marked in Queensland and ACT
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