Zoo tours in­spir­ing guests to make this a bet­ter world

Dubbo Photo News - - News Extra -

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.

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