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Taronga Talks

Author: Taronga Zoo

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Working at Taronga Zoo is more than just a job - Taronga means family.
The deep connections our staff develop with wildlife and the natural world affects the lives of others, near and far.
From Sydney to Dubbo, Taronga's people all have amazing untold Zoo stories that will touch your heart and open your eyes.
Join our family with Taronga Talks.
23 Episodes
In early 2020 Taronga launched its new program to support environmental innovation – the HATCH: Taronga Accelerator Program. Taronga believes that innovation is a key part of securing a shared future for wildlife and people, and recognises that we need to look beyond the usual approaches to tackle environmental challenges. Over the last decade, Taronga has supported innovation in conservation through the Green Grants program, and HATCH is the exciting next step.Join us for a chat with Paul Maguire, Taronga’s Director of Education, and Danielle Fryday, Community Conservation and Engagement Officer at Taronga, to learn more about the HATCH Program and the challenges and silver linings of running the inaugural program during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also chat with HATCH 2020 winners Good-Edi about their journey and HATCH experience, and what’s next for them and their edible coffee cups!
It’s been an exciting time for Taronga Zoo’s chimpanzee group, and for chimpanzee research being conducted around the world. Taronga celebrated the 60th birthday of matriarch chimpanzee ‘Spitter’ this month, along with the 60th anniversary of Dr Jane Goodall’s ground-breaking chimpanzee research project in Gombe, Tanzania on World Chimpanzee Day.Join us for a very special Taronga Talk, where we take a virtual tour around the world to hear from our passionate primate keepers past and present, our CEO Cameron Kerr, along with the incredible Dr Jane Goodall to celebrate this milestone!Hear from our special guests:· 00:01:31 – Primate Keepers Katie Hooker & Paul Davies in Taronga’s Chimpanzee House · 00:24:36 – Debbie Cox live from Liberia in West Africa· 00:47:07 – Dr. Jane Goodall live from the UK · 01:12:36 – Cameron Kerr, CEO of Taronga Conservation Society Australia
When Senior Marine Keeper Jo Walker started at Taronga Zoo, she was instantly spellbound by penguins. She fell in love with the look and inquisitive nature of this unusual bird, and was fascinated by their need to survive on both the land and sea. Her passion for penguins was ignited in Antarctica, beginning her life’s quest to see every single species of penguin in the wild.
In our first Taronga Talks episode for 2020, Taronga Conservation Society Australia CEO Cameron Kerr reflects on the enormous change affecting us all during the COVID-19 pandemic. With over 5,000 animals to still care for, ongoing conservation work to help save endangered species and two beautiful Zoos to maintain, there's no such thing as ‘hibernation’ during lockdown at Taronga!
We were honoured to welcome respected Brewarrina Elder and Australian country music legend Col Hardy OAM to the Taronga Talks studio for a very special conversation. Col’s incredible journey to Taronga is carried by his love of music and sacred connection to the land and wildlife. As Education Officer for Taronga’s ‘Animals of the Dreaming’ Zoomobile program, Col now travels all around NSW to bring Dreamtime stories and native animals to life for the next generation – using his musical talent to engage and inspire.
With an interest in anatomy, the weird and wonderful, and a lifelong affinity with animals – the writing was on the wall for Dr. Lydia Tong to devote her career to science. As Veterinary Pathologist at Taronga Wildlife Hospital, Lydia acts as the ‘Zoo’s Coroner’ – investigating the lives and deaths of animals. She gathers information that helps to improve the welfare of animals in Taronga’s care, and even help fight the illegal trade of animals in the wild. Her passion for science and inquiry makes a difference – from providing understanding and closure following mysterious animal deaths, to making discoveries like the elusive gender traits of echidnas.
Staying positive and solutions-focused keeps Belinda Fairbrother tackling huge global challenges like climate change, every day. Spending her formative years at play in the Aussie bush, Belinda acquired a love and curiosity of nature and animals that led to her studying Environmental Science – and travelling as far as Antarctica – to learn how to protect them. As Community Conservation and Engagement Manager at Taronga Zoo, Belinda works tirelessly to create magic moments that connect Taronga’s guests with animals, and to inspire people to Act for the Wild.
Every second weekend during his teens, Anthony Dorrian would help his father with Taronga Zoo’s food and manure runs. He jumped at every opportunity to learn and grow as a keeper – first at Taronga Zoo Sydney, then at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, before working abroad in England and Ireland. With over 35 years’ experience, Anthony shares his love of ungulates (hooved animals) as Senior Keeper at Taronga Western Plains Zoo – pioneering techniques in Hippopotamus dentistry that continue to amaze guests.
From caring for stray dogs to rehabilitating native wildlife at WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.), Jimmy Sanders was born with an innate love of nature. Taronga Zoo’s Chimpanzee Talk inspired him to pursue a career as a Zoo Keeper – unlocking his passion for ungulates (hooved animals) and his life’s calling to protect the iconic Giraffe. As Senior Ungulate Keeper at Taronga Zoo Sydney, Jimmy has high hopes for a shared future for Giraffe and people – inspiring individuals to support community-centred conservation projects in Africa.
Bruce Murdock’s earliest memory of connecting with animals occurred when he was very young, during a pony ride. He knew he wanted to live his life around animals. Starting small with a ‘free-range’ pet rabbit, Bruce sought out learning experiences that brought him closer to wildlife. Despite advice to the contrary, Bruce was determined to make a career from zoo-keeping. Fast forward 29 years, today Bruce proudly manages a team of passionate keepers and volunteers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo. With between 600-800 animals under his portfolio as Precinct Manager, Bruce shares insights on his diverse role and the complexities of pride life for Lions.
We were honoured to welcome the incredible Dr. Jane Goodall to Taronga this month for an intimate conversation at Taronga’s wonderful Institute of Science and Learning. With almost 60 years of chimpanzee research at Gombe National Park in Tanzania, coupled with first-hand knowledge of global issues facing our future generations, Dr. Jane shines a light on the choices we can all make to secure the future that our planet desperately needs. Her message is one of hope, unity and inspiration – that together we will secure a shared future for wildlife and people.
Growing up in Sydney’s pristine Northern Beaches, Wendy Gleen used to wake up to blue-tongued lizards, diamond pythons, koalas and a brilliant dawn chorus. Then one day she realised that houses had replaced animals and the birds had stopped singing… and nobody else seemed to notice. As Senior Keeper in Taronga Zoo’s Australian Fauna division, Wendy challenges you to step through the ‘magic portal’ and once again open your eyes to the diverse, wild world around you.
Signed up and ready to join the Royal Australian Air Force, Maz Boz never thought a ‘Keeper for the Day’ experience at Taronga Zoo would change his life forever. He was so blown away by the people and magic of Taronga that he immediately changed his career, joining Taronga as a volunteer keeper. Today, Maz continues to pursue a fulfilling vocation as a Carnivore Keeper – enriching the lives of Meerkats, Sun Bears and Red Pandas in his care whilst inspiring Taronga Zoo Guests every day.
With up to 600 animals attending Taronga Western Plains Zoo Wildlife Hospital in any given year, no two days are the same for Senior Veterinarian Dr. Benn Bryant. From annual health checks of Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s mega-vertebrates like Giraffe, to saving local injured wildlife, Benn works tirelessly to achieve the optimal welfare and health of every animal. Growing up in suburban Sydney suburbs, Benn credits his love of animals to formative farming experiences, along with his admiration of veterinarian hero, James Herriot. Today, Benn extends his own veterinarian expertise from Dubbo to conservation efforts abroad, helping to successfully breed the critically-endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros in Indonesia.
The strong bond between a keeper and their animal is hard-won, yet the most valuable tool available for animal training and enrichment. Danielle Fox knows that, like all good relationships, trust and rapport is earned over time. From the diligent Californian Sea Lion to the cruisy New Zealand Fur Seal, Danielle adjusts her training approach to suit both the species and character of each individual. As Unit Supervisor of Marine Mammals, Danielle Fox feels privileged that her animals chose to accept her – and that together they inspire thousands of people to live for the wild.
As far back as he can remember, Paul Davies always wanted to be a Zoo Keeper. His childhood visits to Whipsnade Zoo in England cemented both his love of animals and awe of the zoo keeping profession. When life took an unexpected turn during his teens, Paul sought travel – first moving to Scotland before his big move to Australia. Thirty-six years later, Paul counts himself lucky to work as a Senior Australian Fauna Keeper at Taronga Zoo. Caring for native species like Feathertail Gliders, Long-nose Bandicoots, Bettongs and Potoroos in Taronga Zoo’s Nocturnal House, Paul Davies uses creativity to reveal the animals right on your doorstep.
Looking after the world’s fastest mammal, one of the world’s slowest animals and Africa’s most efficient predator is all in a day’s work for Taronga Western Plains Zoo Keeper Jordie Michelmore. Having joined Taronga Zoo’s ‘Youth at the Zoo’ program (YATZ) at 14 years-old, Jordie’s passion for animals keeps her chasing every opportunity – from relocating to Dubbo to look after Cheetahs, Galapagos Tortoise and African Wild Dog, to working with the Northern Rangelands Trust in Kenya to protect endangered wildlife.
Though scaly and scary to some, Michael McFadden has always loved reptiles. His Honours degree first led him to Taronga Zoo, where he seized an opportunity to work in the Reptile House. Now Unit Supervisor for Herpetofauna, Michael is living out his childhood dream of not only working with reptiles and amphibians – but saving many critically endangered species from extinction. From breeding and releasing the tiny Southern Corroboree Frog back into Kosciuszko National Park, to conducting field research of the mighty Komodo Dragon in Indonesia, Michael shares his passion for the ‘unsung heroes’ of the animal world.
Had she not called up to confirm her post, Louise Ginman may have never worked at Taronga Zoo. Just ten days after starting as a Carnivore Keeper, Louise first experienced the joy of welcoming Sumatran Tiger cubs to the world. Twenty-five years later as Carnivore Unit Supervisor, she is raising cubs again – this time Red Panda and Sumatran Tiger triplets! With less than 50 breeding pairs of Sumatran Tigers left in the wild, Louise’s work breeding and caring for this critically endangered species is more important than ever.
Hundreds of metres of fencing forms a sanctuary for some of Australia’s most vulnerable and critically endangered species. Yet how can we save Australia’s Greater Bilby, Regent Honeyeater and Plains-Wanderer from behind a fence? Andrew Elphinstone sheds light on ‘re-wilding’ and his most important conservation project yet as Taronga’s Manager of Conservation and Recovery Programs.
Comments (3)

Sam Haddrill

Thanks for a great, insightful podcast! Professional, passionate and intimate discussions on a variety of topics.

Apr 13th

Andrew Jones

finished all episodes & can't wait to hear more! 🐅

Mar 29th

Andrew Jones

this is amazing I can't wait to hear more stories guys! I'm a volunteer keeper at western plains zoo and this just makes me want to be a part of the team even more a big inspiration! very well done & put together podcasts and a great listen 🐨🤙

Mar 27th
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