Zoo’s a stage for African ad­ven­ture guide

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

An an­i­mal lover is com­bin­ing her pas­sion for wildlife with her act­ing skills to play host at an African ad­ven­ture night at Auck­land Zoo on Sun­day.

Dr Doris Crusher, known bet­ter as Herne Bay res­i­dent Clare Kelso, will be slip­ping into her tour guide role on the night, en­ter­tain­ing guests as they go be­hind the scenes at the zoo’s African en­clo­sures.

Later she will host a char­ity auc­tion while guests are treated to an African-themed feast.

Clare says she cre­ated the al­ter-ego of Dr Crusher when she started giv­ing tours at the zoo 21 years ago.

Now she is one of the zoo’s Zoom Tour guides, jug­gling her time there with act­ing stints on pop­u­lar lo­cal shows such as Short­land Street and more re­cently, Ou­tra­geous For­tune.

“Work­ing at the zoo is my pas­sion, and so is act­ing,” she says.

“So I use hu­mour a lot to help peo­ple re­mem­ber con­ser­va­tion mes­sages.”

Al­though a five-week sa­fari in Tan­za­nia sev­eral years ago ce­mented her love for African wildlife, Clare says she has al­ways been an an­i­mal lover.

“I’ve al­ways loved them. They have bet­ter man­ners than peo­ple.”

Items up for auc­tion on Sun­day will in­clude gen­uine African arte­facts such as pot­tery.

All pro­ceeds will go to­wards the Auck­land Zoo Con­ser­va­tion Fund.

Af­ter the auc­tion, pro­fes­sional wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher Claire Vial will give a talk and slideshow pre­sen­ta­tion on her African ad­ven­tures.

Zoo com­mu­ni­ca­tions co­or­di­na­tor Jane Healy says the Africa nights have been run­ning for four years and are in­cred­i­bly pop­u­lar.

“It’s an amaz­ing way to get be­hind the scenes.”

Tick­ets for the night are $80 and are avail­able by call­ing the zoo on 360-3805.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Hands-on role: Dr Doris Crusher, aka Clare Kelso, with Auck­land Zoo’s youngest rhino Mtoto.

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