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.
Giles has worked with Big Cats since leaving school. He started in his current position in December 2003, when Australia Zoo got their first tiger cubs. Originally working in zoos in England, Giles has also spent over two years working in a voluntary capacity in India, trying to make a contribution to help save the magnificent tiger in its natural habitat. Giles has a passion not only for tigers and their conservation in the wild, but also for educating people about the environment and what they can do to make a difference.
"The environment is the life support system to every living thing on earth, including us! People make decisions everyday that effect environments all over the world – we need to educate them to make the right decisions!"
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
Che started work in 2002 as a part of the construction team, helping to build some of the amazing new attractions of the Zoo, such as the Crocoseum. Che had always wanted to work with animals, especially tigers, so was quick to apply for a position in the Big Cat team. "Not a day goes by that I don't enjoy coming to work. Tigers are amazing animals and it's a great opportunity having such a rewarding relationship with these majestic cats".
Che has been with the Tigers now since December 2003 so he has an awesome relationship with each and every cat. Che helped make the Big Cat section what it is today and is soon to be classed as a ‘Qualified Senior Tiger Handler' after working his 5 year traineeship. "I hope to continue the great conservation work we have achieved here at Australia Zoo since we have had the Tigers. I hope that all species of Tigers will still be around in years to come."
Matt joined the Australia Zoo Tiger Team in December 2008. His fascination with animals comes from his early childhood where he was taught the importance of co-existing with wildlife.
Originally from Ballarat, Victoria, Matt worked at the local wildlife park caring for native mammals and birds of prey. With a huge interest in animal behaviour and a devotion to his goals Matt gained employment at Melbourne Zoo working with gorillas and tigers!
Although Matt probably gets his cheekiness from those naughty primates, it was his love for tigers, their conservation and his eagerness to make a difference, that landed him his dream job here at Australia Zoo!
Matt says, "Being able to build a relationship and share my life with such a beautiful and powerfully amazing animal is awesome! By working with Tigers in this environment i'm able to express my enthusiasm and passion to the visitors of Australia Zoo, and together fight for the Tigers Conservation!"
Dave joined the Big Cat Department in March 2005. He worked hands on with marine mammals for seven years, building strong relationships with both seals and dolphins gave him a good understanding on reading animal behavior.
The opportunity to build relationships with the Tiger; a magnificent and powerful animal is a dream come true for Dave. "One of the great things about the Big Cat Department at Australia Zoo is not only how they work really hard at having a strong, enriching relationship with these beautiful animals, but also the dedication they show to conservation and to ensuring the survival of the wild tiger."
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.
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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