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What’s it like to be a Zookeeper at Halls Gap Zoo?

7 Apr 2022

Your Grampians getaway isn’t complete without a trip to the Halls Gap Zoo. Celebrating 40 years this year the Zoo has a long and wonderful history with visitors and locals.

Situated on 21 hectares of natural land, it offers spectacular views of the Grampians foothills. The zoo is also home to over 160 species, from the smallest primates in the world, Pygmy Marmosets, to the tallest land mammal, Giraffes.

Arrive at the gates and be greeted by the beautiful Fallow Deer (tip – they love to be hand fed with the food you can buy at reception). Without the city crowds you can enjoy more freedom to really see the animals, not to mention the unique up-close, interactive animal encounters, where the additional funds support the zoo’s endangered species programs.

Inside, you’ll meet two of the zoo’s passionate keepers; Jimmy and Alanna, who love sharing the ins and outs of what it’s like to work every kid’s dream job.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Halls Gap Zoo.

Jimmy: Have been at Halls Gap Zoo for 6 years and I am currently a supervisor and keeper at the Zoo. I am very passionate about all the hoofstock at the zoo, especially the Rhino. As a supervisor, I enjoy teaching our junior keepers new skills.

Alanna: I am a Keeper and have been for 5 years. I’ve been working at Halls Gap Zoo for 1.5 years and I am trained to work with various species here at the Zoo.

Why did you choose to become a Zookeeper?

Jimmy: I have a passion for conservation and originally started my zookeeping career with native animals. I love the challenge of learning and working with large exotic species.

Alanna: I’ve always had a love for animals. I had originally thought I would become a vet but have always wanted to work with exotic species. Zookeeping allows me to do that while also sharing my passion for animals with others.

Can you give us a run down on your day-to-day activities?Jimmy and Alanna: Both of our days consist of cleaning the exhibits and public areas of the zoo. We provide enrichment and fun activities for the animals, such as making toys and puzzle feeders to continuously challenge and stimulate their minds. We also ensure their health and wellbeing is maintained through healthy diets. But the best part of our day is when we get to interact up close with the animals!

Do you have a favourite animal at the Halls Gap Zoo?

Jimmy and Alanna: I think we both agree that Kapamba the Southern White Rhino is a favourite here at Halls Gap Zoo. He is always there to greet us in the morning and loves a good pat.

Alanna: I also really enjoy working with the small carnivores, such as the meerkats and the red pandas.

What’s your most memorable moment at Halls Gap Zoo?

Jimmy: Halls Gap Zoo participates in several native species breeding programs. We’ve been lucky enough to be involved in the bilby conservation success, with some of our offspring being released back into protected wild areas! My favourite day at work was the day our first rhino, Kifaru arrived!

Alanna: My funniest memory is of our male Elk, Eddie. He was running around his paddock, trying to impress the females when he bowed his head and got his antlers stuck in the ground. The girls were not impressed by him and went back to eating their hay!

The most memorable moments for me are how close our team of keepers are. We are great friends and love seeing each other achieve in our careers.

Can you share some facts about the animals you look after at the Halls Gap Zoo?

Jimmy and Alanna:

1) Giraffe have the same number of vertebrae in their neck as humans. Their tongues are blue to protect them from the sun.

2) Bilbies have one of the shortest gestation periods of all marsupials, only being pregnant for 12 – 14 days! The joey then makes its way into the pouch.

3) Shingleback Lizards are known to have the same life partner for their whole lives.

What encounter would you recommend someone to take part in?

Jimmy and Alanna: As soon as you enter, Fallow Deer greet guests at the entry gate and love to nibble food from your hand. We love all the encounters on offer and encourage people to do all of them if they can! All of them! There is really something for everyone, reptiles, dingoes, red pandas, meerkats, giraffes, rhinos and more.

Book an animal encounter with the Halls Gap Zoo here.