Zookeeper for the Day

By Isobel Higgins and Matt Morey, Year 10 students

During the first week of Term 2, a group of Year 10 students had the opportunity to participate in an educational program coordinated by the Australian National Zoo and Aquarium. The program was designed to provide an immersive learning experience in various zookeeping tasks, such as handling reptiles, feeding animals, engaging in enrichment activities, and cleaning. Through this program, the students gained first-hand knowledge and skills in the daily operations of a zoo.

Throughout the course, we delved into the intricacies of reptilian life by studying their natural habitats, examining their dietary patterns and regulations, and analysing the impact of human activities on their species. Our comprehensive approach allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of these remarkable creatures and the challenges they face in their respective ecosystems.

Drawing upon our growing knowledge of zookeeping, our team then performed various essential tasks around the zoo. These included measuring appropriate food portions for the diverse array of native Australian animals in the zoo's care. We were also given the unique opportunity to closely observe the keepers as they expertly prepared and stored specialised meals tailored to the unique dietary needs of each species.

Afterwards, we were fortunate enough to tour the enrichment shed, where we gained valuable insight into how the animals are mentally stimulated and engaged. Despite living in a confined space, these activities utilised the animals' unique skills and senses, which was interesting to watch. It provided them with a fun and enriching learning experience. One of the highlights of our visit was when we had the opportunity to create an activity for the meerkats. It was a very enjoyable experience to watch them interact with our creation.

As the day ended, we went to the giraffe enclosure. With the assistance of the keepers, we cleaned and maintained their living space, gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation for the keepers' hard work in caring for these animals.

Throughout our time at the zoo, we had the opportunity to observe and participate in various activities alongside competent staff and volunteers. Overall, it was an immensely rewarding experience. We highly recommend students in Years 9 and 10 to take advantage of this incredible opportunity.