Programme Development Manager
Laurie joined the team in November 2007 following an extensive history in zoos 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 time 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. 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.
If any one thing has ever been completely constant in Barbara's life, it has been her immense love of animals of every kind. What began as a childhood fascination of all living creatures has grown into a great passion for wildlife and conservation, and she is thrilled to be identified amongst the Australia Zoo keeper team. From being surrounded by a menagerie of pets that has included all manner of feathers, fur and scales, Barbara went on to study Zoology and Wildlife Biology through a Bachelor of Science at the University of Queensland.
In her spare time, Barbara tries to cram in as many hobbies as she can... drawing and painting, photography, playing the piano, sword fighting, and of course hanging out with her own animals.
She has a huge passion for canines of all kinds (African wild dogs, dingoes, wolves, jackals, foxes...) Barbara really hopes she gets the opportunity to work with them in the future, especially as the Zoo expands.
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 forward 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.
Tammy was welcomed into the Native Mammals team in 2005. She has a very colourful background: previously working at a vet surgery, as an aerobics instructor, and then as a photographer here at Australia Zoo.
Tammy landed her dream job to work with animals and found her place in the Native Mammals department as a keeper. Growing up with animals her whole life, Tammy knew she wanted to be an animal keeper and Australian mammals are her greatest love of all. She gets to look after a lot of animals in her department, and she loves them all - but the devil is the one closest to her heart.
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.
Then in 2009, Sally was thrilled to join the Elephant where she enjoyed working with some of the smartest animals in the Zoo! Sally spent time working closely with our smallest elephant, Bimbo, her favorite task was handling training, which is learning how to develop and maintain a relationship with these majestic animals. Sally had some time off to spend with her own little one, before transferring to the busy Africa team!
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!
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”.
With a history in the animal care field including vet nursing and native wildlife keeper in North QLD, Leah was a welcome addition to our Koalas crew when she gained employment in April 2012.
Tigers are her favourite animal at the zoo which Leah describes as majestic and amazing. Tigers really need our help to survive in the wild and Leah is proud to work at Australia Zoo because of our tireless conservation efforts for Tigers and education of the public with hands on experiences.
When not at the zoo Leah enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 kids, studying to finish her uni degree in wildlife sciences and playing the drums.
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.
Beth has been an invaluable member of our Zoo crew since 2007. We don;t know what we would do without her!!!
Samii joined the Zoo Crew in October 2016. Samii loves all thing Reptiles.
Jodi began working at Australia Zoo in October 2002. After caring for a variety of animals, Jodi settled into the Bird department.
In March 2004 Jodi was given the opportunity to be apart off and develop Australia Zoo's ‘Bird Show' team which was such amazing opportunity and so much fun!
In late 2008 Jodi moved back to where it all started and now leads the Zoo's bird department where she enjoys the rewarding task of breeding and ensuring our birds have a safe and healthy environment.
In 2016 Jodi became part of the Africa team and is enjoying working wiht these rather large animals!!
In her spare time Jodi enjoys caring for her own birds, social events and just kicking back.
Catherine joined the Zoo Crew in October 2014. She has also completed an intership as a marine trainer in Long Beach California, and worked as a wildlife Keeper at Paradise Country.
One of Catherine's favourite animals is the Red Panda, with the Tigers as a close second.
One animal encouter Catherine won't forget is having a Humpback Whale appear right beside her, blowing air and covering her in Whale Booger!!
Amanda joined the Zoo Crew in August 2015. Amanda has been a volunteer with Australia Zoo previously and is now part of the Exotics Crew. Wombats are Amanda's favourite animals. "These guys are full of surprises!".
Outside of the Zoo Amanda enjoys camping with family and spending time with her animals at home.
Shannon joined the Zoo Crew in October 2016, after being a volunteer. "I love working at the Zoo. I'm passionate about animals and want to keep Steve's dream alive by interacting with guests to inspire everyone about conservation."
Samara joined the Zoo Crew in April 2017 and you will find her out on the African Savannah. Having completed a bachelor of science, majoring in Zoology, Samara is keen to work with all our animals. "I love being outdoors, building relationships with our animals and inspiring guests about conservation through exciting education."
Crystal has been working since October 2015 as one of our valued volunteers while studying and in August 2017, she was officially offered a keeping role in the Africa Department! She loves getting to spend her day working with all of the incredible animals at Australia Zoo, being able to contribute towards conservation, and being able to teach others about how they can make a difference.
Crystal's favourite animal is the giraffe. They're quite unique and incredibly graceful. She loves how tall they are and says it's a very cool feeling having a giraffe peering down at you!
Jessie joined the Zoo Crew in July 2018 within our Africa department. She has worked at other zoos previously, even assiting in raising flamingo flock chicks! Jessie loves working at Australia Zoo because every day is different and she gets to work with such awesome animals.
Jessie's favourite animals are rhinos, "they are so unique and are just big gentle giants. I love that they enjoy your company and a good pat."
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