In December 2003, Australia Zoo extended their already amazing animal collection to include their first magnificent Tiger cubs. Almost four years later we have eleven Tigers and four Cheetahs. The Big Cat team at Australia Zoo now consists of fourteen staff members who are lucky enough to play with Tigers and Cheetahs for a living!Behind the scenes there is lots of work to be done to take care of these cats and ensure all of their needs are met, including the endless cleaning and hours spent training and conditioning these majestic animals. They require constant attention, including being taken for their daily walks, going for swims, playing with toys, or just hanging out with the handlers.
Contact with these animals from a young age ensures a good relationship when they get older. The Big Cat team is a passionate group of people who are absolutely dedicated to looking after Tigers and Cheetahs, both in captivity and in the wild. They work towards educating the public and raising much needed funds to try and save these amazing Big Cats from going extinct in the future.
Senior Tiger Handler
Geoff has been a part of the big cat team here at Australia Zoo since 2004 after volunteering for only 3 weeks. He has come from an experienced 'adventure tourism' background.
Having a relationship with the Tigers is the most important part of being a Tiger Handler; also Geoff's favorite part of the job. "To be a part of a team that is totally committed to their animals while creating public awareness about how to help save such a magnificent but endangered species is unbelievable." Geoff looks forward to finishing his traineeship and taking on more of a senior role within the section.
Senior Tiger Handler
Matty joined the tiger team in 2008, after a couple of years working for Zoos Victoria. He has extensive experience in the care of many exotic species including: tigers, lions, gorillas, arboreal primates and birds.
In 2012, Matty travelled to Sumatra with FFI's tiger protection units to participate first-hand in the conservation of the Sumatran Tiger. It is a program that Australia Zoo actively supports, and one that Matty is proud to be involved with.
Matty took some brief time away from the tiger team in 2014 to work in the USA, gaining some valuable experience with large carnivores. Since his return in 2015, he has enjoyed the challenges of a senior role in the department.
"Coming to work is something I look forward to every day. Working so closely with these beautiful animals is a blessing, but most importantly, it's a wonderful way to educate our guests and raise much needed funds to save tigers in the wild."
In his spare time, Matty reads a lot and spends much of his time writing stories
Mark started as a big Cat handler in June 2008. Mark comes from an extensive and varied background within the Zoo industry, having spent 19 years at Wellington Zoo in New Zealand and 3 years at Melbourne Zoo. His experience has not only largely been with Tigers and other Big Cats but also with many different species including Apes, Monkeys, Small Mammals and Hoof stock.
His love for Tigers has brought him to Australia Zoo with the unique opportunity to not only work hands on with these beautiful rare cats but also be involved in Australia Zoo’s Conservation program to help protect Sumatran Tigers in the wild.
“It has been an real learning experience for me having only worked with Tigers in a protective contact situation, I am loving the new challenges of working in with these cats and being able to gain a greater understanding of their behaviours by sharing there space. Australia Zoo’s commitment to conservation is also a big part of why I am here”.
Kassie first joined the Zoo back in 2006 after studying wildlife rehabilitation and doing some volunteer work. Starting out with our adorable native mammals, Kass soon moved over to our gorgeous primates before landing her dream job in April of 2008 with our tiger team. Always having a passion for tiger conservation, Kassie loves every second spent with our magnificent cats.
In early 2008, Kassie traveled to Sumatra Indonesia and had the opportunity to witness just how desperate the situation is becoming for the Sumatran tiger, as well as other wildlife that share their habitat such as the Asian elephant, orangutan and Sumatran Rhino.
‘Seeing what happens to these animals and their habitat each and everyday gives me a greater appreciation for the work we do here at Australia zoo and how important it is that we continue. The more awareness we raise through education and funds will prolong extinction until hopefully, extinction is no longer an option’.
Elise began working at the zoo in November 2007 and has enjoyed working in a variety of departments including Retail, Native Mammals, Africa and Cheetahs. Within the Africa team, Elise was able to hone her training and conditioning skills, a challenging part of her role that she has learnt to love.
Her passion for cats was reinforced during the two and a half years she spent within the Cheetah team. Here, she was not only able to build relationships with the cats in her care, but also begin developing her understanding of felid behaviour.
Since recently joining the big cat department, Elise is particularly proud to be involved with a team committed to conserving this magnificent animal in its natural habitat. She looks forward to expanding her knowledge of cats and taking advantage of this great opportunity to contribute to conservation.
After a successful placement in our volunteer program Ethan was recruited to be the newest member of our busy koalas team in October 2012 and a short time later Ethan was transferred to our Big Cats department.
Ethan loves to be active and work outdoors just as much as he loves animals which makes Australia Zoo his dream job.
Tosh started volunteering with the Zoo and was then offered a position within Keeping department in April 2015. Going from a trade as a Butcher to a keeper was a dream come true for Tosh. Tosh's favourite animal is the Crocodile
Tosh enjoys playing cricket and going bush in his spare time.
Big Cats Assistant
Mark started witht the Grounds team in August 2014. Mark really enjoys coming to work when you have Otters to greet you on your daily rounds. "There is something different to do everyday, which I love".
With a concreting and landscaping background, mark is sure to keep Australia Zoo looking amazing.
From March 2017 Mark joined the Big Cats crew to help with all grounds/maintenance work within this team.
Ouside of the Zoo, Mark enjoys surfing, golf, watching his kids play Football.
Dave is one of our newer Tiger Keepers, joining the team in October 2017. He's spent years as a zookeeper in Wellington, and is excited to expand upon his knowledge in Australia. He says he has always aspired to be a part of the Australia Zoo facility and loves that he has the chance to work with a species he loves and is able to engage with amazing conservationalists.
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