Din­goes in do­cent ob­ses­sion

ZOO GUIDE ‘ONE OF THE PACK’

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - News - Kaylee Martin

WITH two decades of volunteering un­der her belt at Perth Zoo, Carolyn Shand now con­sid­ers her­self one of the pack with the zoo's res­i­dent din­goes Daku and Mirri.

An avid an­i­mal lover, Ms Shand has served as a Perth Zoo do­cent for the past 20 years.

Like other do­cents, she gives guided tours and in­for­ma­tive talks to pa­trons but it's her re­la­tion­ship with the high spir­ited, furry dingo sib­lings that is most im­por­tant to her.

“I do guided tours and walk around dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the zoo, but this time I have with the din­goes is an ex­tra thing that I'm privy to,” she said.

“The love of these an­i­mals and be­ing able to be a part of their pack is pretty spe­cial.”

Dur­ing her vis­its with the din­goes, Ms Shand leads the pair on a weekly walk around the zoo as part of be­havioural en­rich­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

“The din­goes dic­tate where they go around the zoo and their favourite place to visit is the Sa- van­nah,” Ms Shand said.

“They ab­so­lutely adore the meerkats.

“In the wild, they would never meet and be nat­u­ral en­e­mies, but the lit­tle meerkats come up to the front and the din­goes are ab­so­lutely en­thralled.”

Ms Shand’s other du­ties with the din­goes fo­cus on as­sim­i­lat­ing them with hu­mans through fun ac­tiv­i­ties, which en­sures zoo keep­ers are able to work with the an­i­mals more easily.

“They're su­per-in­tel­li­gent; they're not like dogs at all, they're much clev­erer and quite hard to train,” Ms Shand said.

“We have to keep them stim­u­lated and make sure they have fun but also make sure they know we're the boss.”

Perth Zoo has about 300 pas­sion­ate do­cents who of­fer their free time to the an­i­mal haven through daily guided tours, visi­tor ac­tiv­i­ties, staffing the in­for­ma­tion cen­tre, fundrais­ing, an­i­mal mon­i­tor­ing and more.

Dur­ing the past fi­nan­cial year, Perth Zoo do­cents con­trib­uted more than 46,090 hours of ser­vice to the zoo.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey d444599

Perth Zoo do­cent Carolyn Shand with one of the din­goes.

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