Meet the Zookeepers

Meet Eve the Assistant Curator

How long have you been in the zoo industry?
I am the onsite manager at Brooklands Zoo and have been in this role since January 2008. Prior to this I worked in various roles involving both keeper duties as well as managerial roles in Canada. I also have a background in wildlife rehabilitation involving species both native to Canada as well as New Zealand and have also participated in nest box monitoring and bird banding projects in both Canada and New Zealand.

Why did you become a keeper?
I am a true ‘animal geek’ and have always wanted to work with animals and conservation. 

What is the best thing about the job?
Working in a job that I’m so passionate about – I feel very privileged to work in this role.

What is the worst thing about the job?
Having to farewell an animal (whether it’s due to age/health issues or animal transfers to another facility).

What animals do you work with at the zoo?
I’m in a managerial role and primarily work in the office as a lot of administrative tasks are generated with running a zoo. I oversee all the animals in the Brooklands Zoo collection.

What is your favourite animal at the Zoo?
I really can’t choose a favourite - each animal has their own quirky personality. 

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
For such a small zoo Brooklands Zoo has a lot of personality and a great team of staff. We regularly receive compliments on the high standard of care we provide to the animals here - high animal welfare standards is very important to us. We’re also proud to be an accredited member of the Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia.  

Meet Louise the Head Keeper

How long have you been a keeper?
I was a keeper for over six years in the UK, before moving to New Zealand at the end of 2008. I have been the Head Keeper at Brooklands Zoo since June 2009.

Why did you become a keeper?
I have a keen interest in wildlife and conservation. 

What is the best thing about the job?
The fact that it does not feel like a job, more a way of life, being around animals and being outdoors makes me happy and I feel privileged to be able to work up close with exotic animals. Also by being able to stimulate and enrich the daily lives of the animals at the zoo by giving them the best care possible in a captive environment. 

What is the worst thing about the job?
When an animal is sick or passes away, that can be tough.

What animals do you work with at the Zoo?
I am lucky enough to be able to work with all of the animals as oversee all the sections and cover the keepers as required for rostered days off, holidays and sick leave.

What is your favourite animal at the Zoo?
I don't have one. They are all unique and have different characters and so depending on what they are up to I can have a different ‘favourite’ each day! I do particularly love working with the squirrel monkeys and the meerkats though, they are a lot of fun to be around.

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
Because it is small we have a team of very dedicated keepers that work very hard doing a wide range of jobs to keep it looking good and making sure the animals are well cared for. Also is it quite unique in the fact that it’s free and the people of New Plymouth are very lucky to have it. 

Meet Anna

How long have you been a keeper?
Since 2008.

Why did you become a keeper? 
My passion for the care of animals and their environments.

What is the best thing about the job?
Being able to help team members and provide the best care for the animals.

What is the worst thing about the job?
When things happen that are out of anyone’s control.

What animals do you work with at the Zoo?
I work with the birds and the reptiles/amphibians but also cover the exotics and farmyard sections when required.

What is your favourite animal at the Zoo?
All of them! I love animals as they are all just as important as each other. 

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special? 
Being a small zoo we have the opportunity to learn a wider variety of skills; provide a great service for the community and educate future generations.

Meet Jasmine

How long have you been a keeper?
Off and on since 2005. I started at Brooklands Zoo, then moved to work at Wellington Zoo for a year and then back to Brooklands Zoo part time since starting a family.

Why did you become a keeper?
I grew up on a farm and when my family moved to New Plymouth I missed the contact with the animals so I started volunteering at Brooklands Zoo and loved it. I developed an understanding for the importance of zoos and conservation. I continued working in zoos as it is something I believe in.

What is the best thing about the job?
Interacting with the visitors and the animals. I especially like it when people ask questions and want to learn about the animals.

What is the worst thing about the job?
Having to work in bad weather.

What animals do you work with at the Zoo?
I cover all sections; exotics, farm, birds and reptiles/amphibians.

What is your favourite animal at the Zoo?
I like all the animals at the zoo but I especially like the inquisitive but cautious natures of the alpacas and the Cotton top Tamarins.

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
It’s a small zoo so you can get to know your team mates well. Also we have to do a lot of things ourselves that you wouldn’t do in a larger zoo, like browse collecting and maintenance, so we learn lots of new skills.  

Meet Jenny

How long have you been a keeper?
I have been a keeper at Brooklands Zoo since August 2015.

Why did you become a keeper?
I’ve always loved being around animals and even had pet snails as a child.  I’m especially keen on wildlife conservation and being a keeper means I can play a small part in ensuring animals are well cared for.

What is the best thing about the job?
Seeing the animals first thing each morning reminds me every day of how lucky I am to work here – and being a part of a great team of fun, dedicated keepers who have taught me so much about what it is to be an excellent zookeeper. It really is the best job I’ve ever had!

What is the worst thing about the job?
Working outside in the middle of winter, when it’s cold and pouring with rain.

What animals do you work with at the zoo?
I work in the bird section and in the farm.  I really like the variation in my job.  No two days are the same.

What is your favourite animal at the zoo?
Can I only have one? I love the grunts and snuffles of the Kune Kunes, and the way they relax when given a scratch. Guinea pig cuddles are a highlight, and Charlie’s (the cockatoo) antics bring a smile to my face every day.

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
Having grown up in Okato; Brooklands Zoo was a special part of my childhood.  I love bringing my own children here and I think that’s true of many Taranaki families.  The fond memories are passed down through the generations.  It’s a New Plymouth institution!  

Meet Jo

How long have you been a keeper? 
Since April 2002

Why did you become a keeper?
I have always loved animals and love working outside.

What is the best thing about the job?
Hand feeding the exotic animals!

What is the worst thing about the job?
Having to say good bye to an animal either passing or moving to another facility.

What animals do you work with at the Zoo?
I get to work with all the animals

What is your favourite animal at the Zoo?
The Meerkats. 

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
Because it is free. Brooklands zoo has special animals and the keepers are awesome to work with. 

Meet Kelly

How long have you been a keeper?
I have been a keeper at Brooklands Zoo since June 2015. I have also worked as a dog trainer and as a keeper at Wellington Zoo

Why did you become a keeper?
I love animals! Especially wildlife- always have and always will. As I kid, I wanted to be the Dianne Fossey of wolves...then I found out that there are so many wolf biologists that they even have conventions, so, even though I still adore wolves, I began getting more interested in other unusual and misunderstood wildlife- like hyena, African wild dogs and fossa...and I haven't stopped there. Really I love them all!

What is the best thing about the job?
Picking up poop. You think I'm kidding? Only a little! Picking up poop is a great time to observe the animals (get to know them) and talk to them (let them get to know you) and you get to learn about them through noticing things about their enclosure- where they like to hang out, what they chew or interact with, where they poop etc. It's also quite therapeutic- a good time to think :)

What’s the worst thing about the job?
It's a job that is full of surprises, and some of the surprises aren't good ones. Sometimes animals pass suddenly, or they have fights or accidents that end in injuries. These things can be hard, and happen occasionally whenever you work with animals, despite our very best care- wild animals, and even domestic ones, can be unpredictable.

What animals do you work with at the zoo?
All of them! Lucky aren't I? I will be a 'floating' keeper, helping all three sections when needed.

What is your favourite animal at the zoo?
Meal worm! Ok this time I am joking! My favourite species is probably the otters, but I'm pretty fond of the aviary and of Rowlf the guinea pig, Snow the chicken, and Kura the kune kune. There are many I am yet to get to know well so my list will grow and grow.

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
Lots of reasons- it's a real gem! The only free zoo I know, which is AMAZING! The staff are very passionate and serious about what they do, and I think that shows. You can tell the animals and the enclosures are loved. A small zoo that packs a big punch!

Meet Kim

How long have you been in the zoo industry?
Since November 2016. My previous experiences consisted of animal rescue and rehabilitation, mainly of ex-pet primates in the UK.

Why did you become a keeper?
To gain a wider knowledge of the methods of animal care.

What is the best thing about the job?
Getting creative and changing up the animals’ surroundings to keep them busy, and then seeing their reactions.

What is the worst thing about the job?
Replicating other aspects of the wild can be pretty challenging.

What animals do you work with at the zoo?
The exotics - so the primates, otters and meerkats.

What is your favourite animal at the Zoo?
I don’t have one. They are all so interesting in their own way.

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
Working in a small team can allow you to understand everything that goes on in the running of a zoo.

Meet Imke 

How long have you been a keeper?
I have been a keeper at Brooklands Zoo since Sept 2017. I am covering a 12 month maternity leave.  

Why did you become a keeper?
My love for animals started when I was very young and has only grown more and more. Working with them has only increased that passion and I knew I wanted to be a zoo keeper as soon as I left university. I wanted to keep learning about animals and that’s why I wanted to become a keeper.

What is the best thing about the job?
The best thing is seeing how, we as keepers can make such a difference to an animals experience within their enclosure by giving them enrichment. However in a broader sense, the best thing is knowing that we are contributing in conserving some amazing species.

What is the worst thing about the job?
Definitely when an animal falls ill. As a keeper you do your best to provide an animal everything it needs to live a healthy life. However, despite this animals get sick and in the worse cases they die. There is nothing worse than that.

What animals do you work with at the Zoo?
I am currently in the position of float or roaming keeper so I work with most of the animals at the zoo, it just depends on who needs me on the day.

What is your favourite animal at the Zoo?
That’s a tricky one as I am still quite new to the zoo and am still getting to know the animal’s personalities. However, my favourite animal so far is one of the Buff Sussex hen ‘Snow’, she is the cheekiest and smartest chicken I have yet to meet!

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
This zoo is so special because it sits so close to the heart of the New Plymouth community. It provides an amazing experience for anyone who visits and educates them about the species we hold at the same time. And it’s all free!  

 

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