Celebrating 160 years and International Zookeeper Day
Spring is in the air and celebrations are well and truly in full swing at Melbourne Zoo, as Zoos Victoria celebrates 160 years of wildlife conservation and its dedicated zookeepers.
The 160th anniversary celebrations coincide with International Zookeeper Day on October 4, with zookeepers of all ages and experiences reminiscing and sharing stories about their passion for animal care and conservation.
Following his first year working at both Healesville Sanctuary and Melbourne Zoo, Australian bush keeper Kody Davidson said the opportunity to work with a variety of different animals and local threatened species was inspiring.
“I started at Healesville Sanctuary, which was a wonderful place to learn the ropes,” Kody said.
“Working with the threatened species team was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. We were all working towards the same goal – protecting animals that are facing extinction in the wild, like the Mountain Pygmy-possum. It’s an incredibly unifying thing to share with each other.”
From an early age, Kody said he was fascinated by the natural world. As he grew up, this evolved into a deep love and compassion for animals, leading him to study biological science.
“I always loved animals and wanted to work with them,” Kody said.
Kody pursued his passion for wildlife with stints at Wildlife Victoria and the RSPCA before landing a job as a keeper at Zoos Victoria last year.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better first year. The people I work with are amazing. Their dedication to animals is inspiring. I especially love talking to the senior keepers. Some of them have been working for Zoos Victoria for more than 30 years and they have some amazing stories and experiences to share.”
Zoos Victoria senior manager of animal care and conservation Justine Felix, who began her own zookeeping career more than 15 years ago, said keepers like Kody were the future of zoo-based conservation.
“We have many wonderful keepers with varied experiences and backgrounds at Zoos Victoria,” Justine said. “There are also some new keepers, like Kody, who are starting their careers at such an exciting time. Zoos, as we know them, have evolved from their early days of being places where you just come to see an interesting animal with the family, to today being true conservation organisations.”
“Even since I started zookeeping 15 years ago, we have seen some incredible progress and that progress is only going to build in the years to come.”
International Zookeeper Day is an annual event that aims to shine a light on the important work of zookeepers around the world and their vital role in wildlife conservation.
Melbourne Zoo first opened its gates on October 6, 1862. To mark the 160th celebrations, Melbourne Zoo has launched a retrospective photography exhibition that depicts Zoos Victoria’s history and the passionate wildlife experts who have helped transform the organisation it into a world-leading conservation hub. •