There was a buzz in the air as our guests arrived, cameras clicking and smiles all round. With the spectacular view of Sydney Harbour in the background, this was clearly going to be an exciting event as the finalists for Tourism Australia’s The Best Jobs in the World competition joined keepers in the Bird Show amphitheatre. To greet them, there was myself and some other members of the Taronga team, including a Diamond Python, Short-beaked Echidna, White-tailed Cockatoo and my counterpart “Nangaw”, the Powerful Owl.
Our visitors were taken aback by Nangaw’s stunning features, many confusing her to be an eagle or a hawk due to the design of her face; it is not the typical heart shaped-face you’d expect. Her feet were also a hot topic, and part of the reason these birds are named “Powerful Owls”. Powerful by name and in nature, these birds can capture and eat animals around the same size as themselves, including possums and bats. This is the largest species of owl in Australia, but still no small feat.
The most important thing our finalists noted was that Nangaw is missing her right wing. This is due to an injury she incurred whilst in the wild, and why she is here at Taronga. She was brought in to our Wildlife Hospital, but as a result of her injuries could not be released back to the wild. Due to land clearing and urbanisation, the biggest threat to these birds is unfortunately us, and as more old trees with hollows in them disappear, these birds are forced closer and closer to our human world. This is a concern shared not only by Nangaw, but also “Marco”, the White-tailed Cockatoo.
The silver lining to Nangaw’s cloud is that she has found a home her at Taronga, and by making small changes in our everyday lives like putting a nest box up in our backyard, or choosing sustainable timber supplies, we can ensure their survival. I love sharing this ambassador with Taronga guests, and I left the event confident our finalists shared my opinion, and hopefully passion.
Bird Show Trainer, Brendan