Meet the Zookeepers

Meet Eve the Brooklands Zoo Lead

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. I am also on the Zoo and Aquarium Association (ZAA) NZ Branch Committee.  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 participated in both bird 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 contribute to conservation. 

What is the best thing about the job?
Working in a job that I’m so passionate about and working with great people!  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 a ZAA Welfare Accredited Member.  

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 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 on 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 kunekunes, and the way they relax when given a scratch. Charlie the cockatoo's 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 loved bringing my own children here and I think that’s true for 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 since 2015, and worked another four years previously at a larger zoo.

Why did you become a keeper?
Because I am crazy about wildlife! I had also heard about all the wonderful things zoos were doing to help wildlife both in-situ and ex-situ and wanted to be a part of that.

What is the best thing about the job?
So many things! One of them for me is seeing animals have that ‘eureka’ moment during a training session - that moment when they really understand what it is you are teaching them. Also seeing our animals enjoying and really benefiting from enrichment items. And we have a great team.

What’s the worst thing about the job?
Losing animals we care about. You cannot work with animals without experiencing both joy and heartache.

What animals do you work with at the zoo?
Right across the zoo. I mostly work in the farmyard but also cover birds/reptiles and the exotic animals as required.

What is your favourite animal at the zoo?
Very difficult to choose just one - Mrs Puff the silky chicken is a lovely little old lady, and Charlie the cockatoo is always a lot of fun. The meerkats are fabulous too. Really, they are all great for many different reasons.

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
It’s small but perfectly formed. Welfare is of utmost importance and we work hard to provide the best care we can. It’s also accessible to anyone and everyone.

Meet Maxine

How long have you been in the zoo industry?
Since March 2008

Why did you become a keeper?
I’ve always enjoyed working with animals. I thought I’d be a vet but after watching the TV series ‘The Zoo’ based at Auckland Zoo, I realised some people were lucky enough to get to work with some of the most amazing species, being hands on with conservation and being able to make a global impact just by going to a job you love each day..

What is the best thing about the job?
That after so many years, I’m still excited to get up and go to work.

What is the worst thing about the job?
The loss of an animal can be very hard, especially if you have worked with them for a long time. There will always be special individuals that touch your heart more than others.

What animals do you work with at the zoo?
I work with the exotic species such as capuchins, cotton-top tamarins, meerkats, red-rumped agouti and squirrel monkeys.

What is your favourite animal at the Zoo?
The cotton-top tamarins are my absolute favouites. I was lucky enough to travel to Colombia to work with Proyecto Titi, an amazing conservation initiative based in the only place in the world that cotton-top tamarins are found and see them in the wild. These tiny primates are critically endangered and at Brooklands Zoo we are part of a regional breeding program. 

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
We are small but mighty. We are fully welfare accredited, participate in breeding programs, give educational talks and help rehabilitate native wildlife.

Meet Monique

How long have you been in the zoo industry?
I worked and volunteered at Brooklands Zoo on and off throughout my university study but I began my first permanent keeping role in May 2019.

Why did you become a keeper?
Originally, I became a keeper because of my love for working with animals but with research and experience, I have come to appreciate the role of zoos in conservation, education and research.

What is the best thing about the job?
Feeding the animals and handling them (where needed); as well as bonding with them and getting to know their unique personalities.

What is the worst thing about the job?
Saying goodbye to animals and cold, rainy days.

What animals do you work with at the zoo?
I work with a variety of species such as the farmyard animals, birds, reptiles and amphibians and am also training to work with exotic species such as the meerkats and cotton top tamarins.

What is your favourite animal at the zoo?
I am pretty obsessed with the leopard tortoises and I also have a soft spot for Charlie the sulphur-crested cockatoo, Cinnamon the alpaca, the musk lorikeets in the free-flight aviary and many more.

Why is Brooklands Zoo so special?
I grew up in New Plymouth so I have been visiting Brooklands Zoo my whole life and I think the thing that makes Brooklands Zoo stand out from other facilities is that it is free and therefore, accessible to everyone!