Meet the Keepers

Lisa Ridley: Keeper, Primates

Lisa has worked as a primate keeper at Taronga Zoo for the last seven years. During this time she has taken the time to volunteer on several occasions.

Erna Walraven: Senior Curator

Erna’s career at the zoo has so far spanned over almost three decades. Erna is Senior Curator for both Taronga Zoo and Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Richard Buzas: Keeper, Primates

Richard Buzas has been working as a keeper with the Chimpanzee group and other primate species at Taronga Zoo for the past seven years.

Dr. Larry Vogelnest: Senior Veterinarian

Larry began working at Taronga Zoo in 1990, but his passion for wildlife was sparked during his childhood spent in South Africa.

Lou Grossfeldt: Primate Supervisor

Lou’s job is to supervise the primate division at Taronga Zoo which includes managing some of mankind’s closest relatives, the Chimpanzees and Great Apes.

Allan Schmidt: Senior Keeper, Primates

As a Senior Primate Keeper, Al has cared for Taronga’s Chimpanzee community for more than 15 years, and been at Taronga for over two decades.

Louise Ginman: Unit Supervisor, Carnivores

Louise has been passionate about animals as long as she can remember, surrounding herself with pets of all kinds. After travelling for two years, Louise began working in a Veterinary Hospital learning on the job as much as she could for four years, before applying for the role as keeper at Taronga.

Justine Powell: Senior Keeper, Carnivores

Justine has been a keeper at Taronga for 17 years, working with a large variety of animals throughout that time. Initially she was based in the Australian mammals section, before working with primates including gorillas and chimpanzees, and finally ending up as Senior Keeper in Carnivores.

Megan Lewis: Keeper, Carnivores

Megan’s wildest moment was when she was the first keeper to discover the birth of a baby platypus! The platypus was born at Taronga as part of a breeding program for the species, which is notoriously difficult to breed. The Zoo has so far had three successful breeding seasons.

Nick De Vos: Unit Supervisor, Australian Fauna

Nick attributes his career choice to growing up around animals and having very supportive parents who didn’t shy away from their 8 year old son bringing home a menagerie of animals including venomous snakes!

Being on the other side of the camera - a keeper’s perspective

As a zoo keeper , there are many times that you’re called upon to be filmed about various aspects of your job. Usually these encounters with media are often brief. However this time it was different. Never before had we had crew working so closely with us following our daily lives at the Zoo every step of the way, sharing in our tragedies and triumphs.

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

Gary Miller: Elephant Manager, Taronga Zoo

Gary has worked as an elephant keeper at Taronga Zoo for the past seven years. Prior to this he spent many years working with both Asian and African Elephants at several international zoos including San Diego Wild Animal Park and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida. With his level of expertise, working closely with elephants he has also consulted at many zoos in the United States.

Lucy Melo: Senior Elephant Keeper, Taronga Zoo

From her earliest memory, Lucy has loved animals. She always thought she wanted to be a veterinarian and applied to vet school, but then suddenly realised she would rather work with healthy animals – not sick ones.

Brad McKenzie: Keeper, Marine Mammals

Brad McKenzie has worked as a keeper and animal trainer at Taronga Zoo for the past five years. Previous to this he spent 10 years working in Queensland predominantly with Marine Mammals but also with fish, reptiles and amphibians.

Ryan Tate: Supervisor Marine Mammals, Taronga Zoo

Ryan Tate has been a Marine Mammals keeper and animal trainer at Taronga Zoo for the last eight years. Prior to this he completed a degree in Marine Science before doing some exchange work in Fiji studying tropical ecosystems.

Tony Britt Lewis: Senior Keeper, Australian Fauna

It has been eleven years since Tony, first started working at Taronga Zoo as a keeper. For him it was a lifelong dream fulfilled. As a young boy Tony says he was inspired by the books of Gerald Durrell and David Attenborough which lead him to complete a degree in Zoology and eventually pursue a career as a zookeeper.

Jimmy Sanders: Senior Keeper, Ungulates

Jimmy has been working as a keeper at both Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoo for the past twelve years. During this time he has specialised in managing a wide variety of Ungulate species including Giraffe, Zebra, Pygmy Hippopotamus and bongo.

Renae Moss: Unit Supervisor – Ungulates, Taronga Zoo

Renae has been working as a keeper for 11 years, the last four years as the Unit Supervisor of Ungulates. In her role, Renae looks after hoofed mammals including Giraffe, Zebra, Bongo, Tapir and Hippopotamus.

Matthew Kettle: Manager QBE Free-flight Bird Show, Taronga Zoo

Matthew knew from a very young age that he wanted to work with animals. He never wanted to do anything else. He started his zoo career volunteering at wildlife parks and working in animal research, before he got his first big break and his first paid job in the zoo industry, now over 18 years ago.

Richard Matkovics: Senior keeper, Australian Fauna

Richard has been working as a keeper at Taronga Zoo for the past 20 years. Although he has worked with a variety of Australian fauna from seals to bilbies, his passion has always been for those of the feathered kind.