Programme Development Manager
Laurie joined the team in November 2007 following an extensive history in zoo's across the UK & Australasia. Laurie specialises in project based development of existing or new animal programs. The emphasis of these programs being hands-on husbandry and behavioural training which is what Laurie loves best about working in a zoo.
One amazing animal experience Laurie has had here at Australia Zoo was witnessing the birth of Savannah. To give mum Caballe and the new bub some space, keepers monitored the birth on screen from another room. When Savannah took her first awkward steps (Rhino calves are born with disproportionately large feet) there was alot of anxiety with Laurie and the keepers as she would stumble off camera before stumbling back into view, unharmed.
When not at the zoo, Laurie can be found spending times with his dogs, riding his horses and mountain climbing.
Head of Department
A born and bred - and proud - New Zealander, Manu started her animal career at Auckland Zoo working with a large variety of hoofstock, primates and carnivores. Her main focus however, was the two Asian elephants held there whom she spent most of her time with.
After six years at the zoo, the travel itch that she had had for a while got too bad and she travelled overseas for a year, working at a zoo in the UK for four of those months. On her return downunder she took a job at the Melbourne Zoo where she initially worked on the carnivore/hoofstock department before joining the elephant section at a very exciting time. The zoo was about to acquire three new female elephants and Manu was fortunate enough to spend two years in Thailand with them in quarantine before assisting in the transport of these animals to Australia via three months in the Cocos Islands.
After settling the elephants in at Melbourne, the long held plan to move to Australia Zoo began to kick into gear and she moved up here to join the zoo at a very exciting time. She is really looking forward to the next few years at the zoo as all of the African developments take shape, and is really enjoying her role in helping to make this the best zoo in the world - for the animals and for the zoo patrons.
Prior to joining the Australia Zoo team, Ryan lived in Victoria and worked as a landscaper. In his spare time (in between surfing and skating!), he volunteered at a small park down there working with a variety of reptiles and native mammals. Ryan made the move to Queensland and Australia Zoo in 2007, where he started off in the koala department as a keeper and a leaf cutter.
Despite the fact he really enjoyed working with the koalas, when he heard that rhino were on their way to the zoo, he decided to see if he could make the move to the newly forming "Africa" department. After volunteering on his days off with the rhinos, Ryan knew that was where he wanted to be, working the rhinos - and the ponies.
As well as a passion for rhinos, Ryan also has a passion for helping sick and injured wildlife across the Sunshine Coast. Ryan put his skills to good use when he became a part of our Rescue Unit in November 2012.
After numerous years working in zoos and training animals in Thailand, New Zealand and Australia, Steve joined the Africa department here at the Zoo in February 2012.
He loves working outside, building relationships with our gorgeous animals and being able to share his passion with our staff and guests. Steve is fascinated by our venomous snakes and their undeserved bad reputations.
His favourite animal experiences include spending a year relocating Asian elephants from Thailand to Australia and being part of 2 elephant births. Outside of work he enjoys riding his motorbike, hiking and the beach.
Kat became part of the birds department in November 2009. Following her passion for animals, she completed four years at university studying wildlife.
In her final few months of her degree, Kat started volunteering at Australia Zoo and was soon offered a keeper position which she gladly accepted. She loves working with the birds of prey, in particular being apart of the birds of prey demonstration.
Kat transferred over to our Africa team just in time for its opening in September 2011 and loves hanging out on the savannah with our gorgeous Rhinos, Giraffes and Zebras.
In her spare time Kat loves going bush walking and spending time with her friends and family and looks forward to coming work where she has the best job!
Having worked with all sorts of livestock while at school, when Aaron was offered a position working in the Kids Zoo at Australia Zoo, it was a natural and easy transition after graduating from high school! Easygoing as he is, Aaron soon found himself filling in here and there in several other keeping sections, with various levels of experience with our native mammals, koalas, birds, and even a brief stint amongst the elephants under his belt!
Lately he's been spending a lot of time hanging out with the girls (not just keepers... even all the animals are female!!) in the Exotic Mammal department, which is a great step forwards in pursuing his dream of eventually having the opportunity to work with large hoofed stock such as Rhinos and Giraffes as the Zoo expands.
When he's not hard at work, Aaron enjoys a variety of sports such as basketball, cricket, and touch football, as well as hanging out with his mates, finding creative ways to fall out of trees with his brother, and chilling out with his assortment of animals at home, most especially his Rottweiler and beautiful miniature Fox Terrier.
After a short period of volunteering, Kat began working with Australia Zoo's gorgeous ponies in April 2009. Previously, Kat trained horses for competitions all over Australia. Her favourite animal at the Zoo is, of course, a little pony called Jock. He's such a sweetie.
At home Kat has an Arab Gelding called Billy, who is 10-years-old. Kat loves endurance riding, watching and competing.
Since a young age Renee has had a strong passion for animals, which ultimately led her to university where she studied wildlife biology. Renee's studies also took her to South Africa to participate and learn about wildlife management.
Her future was cemented, as Renee joined the Australia Zoo team in December 2004 beginning her career in our Native Mammals department. Renee's dream has always been to work closely with our worlds larger animals and so became a part of our Asian Elephant department, where she bonded with and learnt the ins and outs of caring for these magnificent animals over three years.
The opportunity to gain greater experience and widen her knowledge with wildlife was presented with the introduction of our exciting Africa Division. While it was hard to leave our beautiful Elephant girls Siam, Sabu and Bimbo, Renee is loving the privilege of being able to bond so closely with our Rhino, Giraffe and Ponies.
"Forming relationships with any animal is a very rewarding experience," says Renee, who is really excited to continue having her relationships grow with our gorgeous resident African members and being an integral part of their lives.
Sally started working at the Zoo in 2004, and has worked with many of our keeping departments but she mainly focused on working with the Zoo's native and exotic mammal species.
Sally was thrilled to join the Elephant department in 2009 and has enjoyed working with some of the smartest animals in the Zoo! Sally is working closely with our smallest elephant Bimbo, and her favorite task is handling training, which is learning how to develop and maintain a relationship with these majestic animals.
Before joining the Zoo Crew, Sally always knew she wanted to pursue a career with animals and completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology and Aquaculture... clever cookie!
After having some time off to spend with her new little one, Sally transferred to the busy Africa team.
Max started working for Australia Zoo in April 2007. He had always been a big fan of Steve Irwin and has wanted to work for the Zoo for as long as he can remember. Getting employed added to one of his favourite memories, which included going skydiving and buying his pet labrador 'Truly Scrumptious'.
Max hopes to become a vet when he is older. His favourite animal is the Black Bear. Max passes the time by hanging out with his friends and also playing squash.
Alina joined the Australia Zoo crew in September 2005.
Before coming to Australia Zoo, Alina spent seven years volunteering and working at Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary in Victoria and has also worked for the RSPCA. Here at Australia Zoo, she was given he opportunity to spend time with many native species including birds, koalas and wombats.
Alina has a quiet and gentle manner that the animals love.
Lewis joined the Australia Zoo Croc team back in 2010 and enjoyed being surrounded by crocs and reptiles every day.
His favourite animal here at the Zoo is our largest saltwater croc Acco. Outside of work Lewis can be found looking for reptiles, at the beach, camping, 4wding and taking care of his pet carpet python Elvis.
Originally from the UK, Lewis always dreamed of working with native Australian wildlife, so when he transferred to our Koalas team in May 2012 his dream came true. He came to love these furry natives but bigger challenges were on the horizon.
Lewis now spends most of his working days in our beautiful African exhibit with rhinos, girraffes and zebras for company since he transferred in November 2012. Crikey - This is as wild as life gets!
Monica joined the hard working Africa crew in September 2012 after working 5 years previously in event management in New Zealand.
Monica has always dreamt of working with animals so she enrolled in university to study zoology and begun volunteering right here at Australia Zoo to gain practical experience.
Monica loves working with our Giraffe's as they have a very enquisitive nature.
When not at work Monica can be found in the great outdoors and especially loves going to the beach.
Carissa joined Australia Zoo's Africa department in March 2013. She loves coming to work and spending her days surrounded by animals. Her favourite is "Savannah" on of our gorgeous rhino's because she is so attention seeking that it is funny.
Carissa's most amazing animal experience was a 3 ½ week safari in Africa.
With thousands of visitors from all over the world passing through the gates daily, all team members understand the importance of making a lasting impression to our patrons. A job at Australia Zoo is more than a vocation, it's a lifestyle - just ask any of our team members. Australia Zoo employees love animals and conservation, have an exceptional self-drive attitude towards work and of course, wear the world famous khaki uniforms with pride! You just have to walk around the Zoo to feel the electricity in the air. The atmosphere creates an exciting experience for all visitors and a dream workplace environment for all employees.
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Check out our Hall of Fame and Zoo Crew Legends