In December 2003, Australia Zoo extended their already amazing animal collection to include their first magnificent Tiger cubs. Since that time the Big Cat family has expanded as has the world class facility where they live. Three acres of land encompassing ten large yards and two beautiful displays make up the area the tigers call home. The dedicated tiger team are very passionate about giving the animals in their care the best life possible and also the protection and conservation of their wild cousins. Through partnerships with conservation organisations Australia Zoo's Tigers play an important role in educating the public and raising much needed funding to save these magnificent animals from extinction. A tiger handler's day consists of walking our beautiful cats as well as training, enriching and playing with them. A very strong bond is formed from a young age between the Tigers and their handlers allowing them to interact with each other on a daily basis as well as offering guest encounters to members of the public for an up close and personal experience of a lifetime.
Head of Department
Geoff started at the zoo in 2004 as a trainee handler after a few weeks volunteering, since then he has progressed to becoming a handler, then a senior handler to eventually the Head of the Tigers Department.
He enjoys both the rewards and the challenges that come with managing a close knit team and the 13 tigers currently housed at Australia Zoo's Tiger facility.
"Being surrounded by a group of very passionate handlers who strive to ensure our cats have the best life here in captivity makes me extremely proud, as does the strong association we have with the members of the Tiger Protection and Conservation Unit in Sumatra Indonesia whom we not only support financially but whose members we have developed a true friendship with over the past 14 years."
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
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.
Ethan grew up in country NSW on a small farm so it's no wonder his passion for animals started early. His childhood consisted of bottle feeding calves before school, rescuing and hand rearing native birds and even a baby bearded dragon he would take to school in a little travel enclosure.
After finishing high school Ethan moved to Europe living in Belgium. His time was spent as a full time elite athlete and cyclist. After two years and a change of career goals Ethan decided to move back to Australia and follow his other dream of working with animals.
The move back lead him to begin volunteering at the zoo to learn more and after a short period was lucky enough to be offered a keeping job in Koalas in October 2012 and over the moon to be given a chance at his dream job as a Tiger handler in March 2013. Ethan's biggest passion is large carnivores and their conservation.
Tosh started volunteering at the zoo in January 2015 after finishing his butchers trade. He had always wanted to one day work at Australia Zoo after growing up watching Steve who was one of his heroes. Tosh landed a job in native Mammals after volunteering for 2 months and fell in love with the Wombats, his favourite native animal.
After working at the zoo for 12 months Tosh transferred to the Tiger department as an assistant and from there progressed into a handler role and hasn't looked back. His favourite part of the job is walking the tigers and spending time hanging out with them. Tosh hopes that together we can make a difference and protect our native and exotic animals.
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 joined the Big Cat team in October 2017, coming from a zoo background in New Zealand and Australia. He began his career in 2003 at Wellington Zoo, initially working as a Keeper before progressing into more senior roles including several years as a Life Sciences Manager. Aside from Big Cats, Dave has extensive experience with a variety of species, including large and small carnivores, ungulates, marsupials, primates, birds, and reptiles.
Dave came to Australia to further his experience and embrace new challenges - working with hands-on Tigers at Australia Zoo has definitely provided the opportunity to do both!
"I'm incredibly privileged to work with this dedicated Team, and of course with our beautiful Tigers as well! To be able to connect with our amazing zoo visitors every day and pass on our message of conservation and sustainability is a very humbling experience, and I feel extremely proud to be able to do so. The Tigers at Australia Zoo are fantastic ambassadors for their species, and have enabled us to inspire so many people. I'm also really enjoying developing a whole new skill set, having never worked hands-on with Tigers before - building relationships with the cats and learning how to interact with them in this capacity is undoubtedly a huge challenge, but immensely rewarding at the same time and I love every minute of it."
In his spare time Dave enjoys riding his motorcycle, playing guitar, drawing, and exploring the great outdoors.
Connor joined the Zoo Crew in May 2018 after working with many different species previously. He's excited to be a part of the Big Cats Team as they are all very positive. Connor also said that Australia Zoo is amazing because of the quality care for animals and great conservational programs & education.
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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