Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Keeper Michele

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 and somewhat rushed as we both hurry off to our next assigned job for the day. 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.

Working as an intern with the Zoo’s Media Relations team for the duration of filming Wild Life at the Zoo I found myself truly appreciating the incredible amount of work it takes to film such a compelling documentary that will show the world what incredible places Taronga and Taronga Western Plains Zoos are.

For each story to be told in detail, hundreds of hours were spent filming at the zoo, rain, hail or shine and at all hours of the day and night. This was followed by weeks and months spent in the editing suite piecing each story together.

As you can imagine the animals were sometimes a little wary of a big camera being pointed at them and were often wondering what all the fuss was about.  So in order to capture some of the wilder moments the crew got creative from camouflaging the field producer in keeper uniform to keepers wearing tiny chest cameras or sneaky camera placements in all sort of difficult places.  We even had staff test out their own camera skills in the field, at home, on cargo planes, you name it whatever made the animals comfortable and allowed us to capture the story.

For me it was an absolute privilege to be part of a team of very talented and passionate people all with the same goal, to share the amazing stories of our Zoo family.

It often surprised me when we would have a brainstorming session, about how to tell some of these stories  just how amazed the production crew would be at activities that we zoo keepers would perceive as everyday events. It then became clear to me that what we do for a living is an incredibly unique and special job. 

To show the world the special relationships keepers have with the animals in their care is brilliant. Being a keeper myself I know how passionate we all are about our work and spreading the word about how important conserving our natural world is. It is high on the agenda for all of us.  

There were a few of tears (the happy kind), lots of laughter and priceless moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life and I’m sure the rest of the crew will too.  As for me, my stint in the Zoo’s Media Relations team has now ended and I’m back to zoo keeping. I’m one of the lucky ones that get to enjoy a small insight into an animals’ world on a daily basis, an experience I thoroughly recommend for everyone, so make sure you tune in to Wild Life at the Zoo on ABC1!

- Michele Tantini, Taronga Zoo keeper

Wild Life At the Zoo

Wild Life At the Zoo
Wild Life at the Zoo takes you beyond Taronga’s gates, showing you the realities of global breeding programs and animal care. You’ll see the very moment endangered animals take their first breath, whilst the cameras capture all aspects of daily life at Taronga with unprecedented access. Tune in to Wild Life at the Zoo on ABC1.