Zoo tours inspiring guests to make this a better world
EDUCATING visitors about conservation, wildlife and the plight of different wild species is a fundamental goal of the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
An early morning walk, Savannah Safari and Pride Lands Patrol are just three of the experiences zoo visitors can enjoy, all of which are led by zoo staff or volunteers.
The TWPZ’S guided tours are curated to help give zoo guests an enhanced overall experience and deeper understanding of the zoo’s core values.
Promotions and public relations coordinator, Mandy Turner, said the aim of guided tours is to inspire guests to do their bit to make the world a better place.
“We want people to come and learn more about our natural world and walk away with a better appreciation of it so that they will endeavour to change something in their own lives for the benefit of the environment,” Ms Turner said.
“This could be something as simple as taking a reusable water bottle or coffee cup or purchasing products that contain certified sustainable palm oil where possible.”
While some of the more elaborate tours come at an extra cost, there are also an abundance of free daily keeper talks and feeds which guests can make the most of.
“They are a great way to learn more about the animals at the Zoo and the conservation programs we support,” Ms Turner said.
“We would definitely recommend visitors catch a couple of talks, feeds or tours whilst visiting the Zoo.”
What is your role at Dubbo’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo (TWPZ)?
I am a volunteer, and also work as a tour guide on the savannah, at Zoofari Lodge and at Billabong Camp. I believe my role at the zoo is to educate and entertain our visitors so they leave with a greater understanding of how they can help with conservation. But most of all, it is to ensure they have a great experience at the zoo.
How long have you worked at TWPZ?
I have been a volunteer for three years and a tour guide for two years.
What is a typical day at the zoo for you?
I have a variety of roles as a volunteer which includes taking people on early morning walks, parking guests, coach tours, meet and greets, animal observations and spot guiding. As an employee, I could be your driver and guide on the Savannah tour during the day time. If you are staying the night at Zoofari Lodge or Billabong Camp, I could be your guide on the evening and morning tours, be your bar man or even be cooking your meal on the barbecue.
What is your favourite thing about working at TWPZ?
Showing off the best zoo in the world. I love meeting new friends and explaining to them about our conservation projects and how we can all help. I also like to learn from our visitors about where they have travelled.
How did you start your journey to doing the job you do at the zoo?
Coming from a farming background I have always been interested in animals. When my family and I moved to Dubbo we became Zoo Friends and then I decided I wanted to become more involved, so I became a volunteer.
What is your favourite animal at the zoo?
The white handed gibbon
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of work?
I love spending time with my family including my children and my four grandchildren. I also have a small hobby farm with a few head of cattle and some pets.
What does Taronga mean to you?
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is a great place to visit. The volunteers and staff are always helpful and willing to share their knowledge of the animals and conservation. TWPZ is also a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the serenity.
Michael O’leary’s roles at Taronga Western Plains Zoo include work at Zoofari Lodge and Billabong Camp. Michael running a bus tour.