Bradd Johnston: Elephant Keeper, Taronga Zoo

Bradd has been a keeper at Taronga Zoo for eight years. He started working with the elephant herd six years ago, and travelled to Thailand, helping with the transfer of five Asian Elephants to establish the first Conservation Breeding Program in Australasia for this species. Previous to this he had worked in several game reserves in Africa. 

From a very young age, Bradd knew he wanted to work with animals, but having an elephant herd become part of his family is more than he could have imagined. Spending three months living with the elephants on the Cocos Keeling Islands whilst they completed quarantine was the start of Bradd forming a very close bond with each member of the herd. Bradd has quite a special relationship with Gung, the breeding male, and you can watch their training sessions in the afternoon at the Zoo.

Bradd says the birth of the three Asian Elephant calves, Luk Chai, Pathi Harn and Tukta  has been the biggest highlight of his career so far. A lot of work goes into the preparation of each birth and to see each calf thrive is very rewarding.

“Everyday rain, hail or shine I get to hang out with our elephant herd. The bonds we have built with them have allowed us to become part of the family. Knowing that they really enjoy the activities and interaction with us makes coming to work before sunrise each day a pleasure.”