People of the zoo: meet Monarto Zoo Natives Keeper Simon

Monarto Zoo is home to more than 500 animals from around the world, but did you know we also have a dedicated native breeding facility?

As a conservation charity, we’re proud to be working to secure a future for some of Australia’s most endangered animals like Tasmanian Devils, Black-flanked Rock-wallabies, Western Swamp Tortoises and Pygmy Blue-tongue Lizards.

As part of our People of the Zoo series, come behind the scenes with Monarto Zoo Natives Keeper Simon as he introduces you to some of his native animals friends.

By Sophie Hueppauff

Spending his days caring for native wildlife is a dream come true for Monarto Zoo’s incredible Natives Keeper, Simon.

Joining the Monarto Zoo team two years ago, Simon loves the natural world and all its feathered, finned, and fluffy inhabitants.

“Growing up, I was always passionate about animals and the environment, and zoo keeping was a career where I could put my passion for animals to good use,” Simon said.

Simon looks after of a number of amazing Australian animals at Monarto Zoo, including Tammar Wallabies, Tasmanian Devils and Greater Bilbies.

“My favourite part of my job is being up close with the animals on a daily basis, and when the weather is sunny like this, it’s a pretty good office,” Simon said.

“My average day is a lot of cleaning and dirty work, but it always pays off in the end when we get to see some great conservation outcomes.”

While keepers try not to have favourites within the zoo community, there’s one species of animal that holds a place dear to Simon’s heart.

“Getting attached to our animals is part of the job. We always seem to find one or two animals that we have a little bit of a soft spot for, and for me it’s the devils,” Simon said.

“Tasmanian devils are a very special species, and they all have their own different personalities.”

As well as making sure the devils are happy and healthy, Simon is in charge of the very important job of devil match-making as part of the zoo’s vital breeding program for this endangered species.

“Breeding devils isn’t just a case of putting a boy and girl together; they’re a little bit fussier than that, so we have to take their distinct personalities into consideration when it comes to pairing,” Simon said.

Monarto Zoo’s breeding work is incredibly important for securing the future of these unique Australian carnivores, which are facing some difficult times in the wild.

As a conservation charity, we are proud to be working alongside several other zoos to ensure there is an insurance population for this species in case there is no cure found for the cancerous facial tumour that is wiping out the native population.

In addition to breeding devils, Monarto Zoo has had four devils successfully released back into the wild in Tasmania.

“Unfortunately, devils have been suffering from the devastating Devil Facial Tumour Disease, which has been wiping them out since the late 1990s,” Simon siad.

“However, we now have a vaccine that’s 100% effective, and we’re seeing a lot of our captive devils go back into the wild, which is really exciting.

“Seeing the end results where animals are released and wild populations build and become stronger makes our jobs so enjoyable.

“We have a bit of a saying here that is ‘our quality of work is our animals’ quality of life’, so we put our best efforts forward to make sure that we have the best outcomes for any animal, both in captivity and the wild.”

 

Congratulations to our Chief Executive Elaine Bensted on receiving the #telstrabizwomen 'for purpose and social enterprise' award tonight.

About Zoos SA

Zoos SA is a not-for-profit conservation charity that exists to save species from extinction and connect people with nature.

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