KATRINE Bruhn-Petersen, from Copenhagen, discovered the Wildlife Habitat’s volunteer program when she was on the internet at home looking for suitable places overseas where she could spend her gap year.
Amid the suggested offerings that came from Central America, Africa and so on the 21-year-old saw the Wildlife Habitat’s details and made up her mind to apply.
Now she’s spending four weeks at the popular Port Douglas wildlife park, working with wildlife keepers and seeing Australia’s unique animals up close. ‘‘I really like it,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s a beautiful place and I really like Port Douglas.’’
She finds kangaroos pretty easy to work with - ‘‘they’re calm and not dangerous’’ - but is steering well clear of the male stork who’s pretty s t r o p p y about anyone approaching his new clutch of chicks.
Ms Bruhn-Petersen is one of about 80 volunteers who annually spend four to eight weeks working at the Wildlife Habitat. According to the Habitat’s assistant manager Clare Anderson, ‘‘The program is a fantastic addition to the local community in terms of yearround business for accommodation location, coach transfers, and local tour operators. There have been many that love Port Douglas so much they go on to stay a little longer and some even obtain work in Port Douglas. We have had numerous return volunteers over the years, and some have gone on to work within the Wildlife Habitat.’’
A typical day for the volunteers is a pick up from their accommodation at 7.30 am and then an interesting day working with the animals before returning home around mid-afternoon.
Responsibilities grow as they tasks become more familiar, but some critters are forever out of bounds - bad luck if you’re keen to work with crocodiles and cassowaries.
‘‘We’ve had some fantastic volunteers,’’ says Ms Anderson. ‘‘The staff often get as much out of it as the volunteers do.’’
VOLUNTEERS: Linda Erkens, Eslie Bos and Katrine Bruhn-Petersen