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.

Tony has worked with a wide variety of exotic and Australian animals in his time at Taronga Zoo and he is now the lead keeper in managing Taronga’s Tasmanian Devil population. These devils are part of a very important breeding program that is considered to be Australia’s insurance population. Due to a very contagious facial tumour disease, wild Tasmanian Devil numbers have dropped by 80% since 1996 and as there is no known cure there’s a chance the Tasmanian Devil could become extinct in the next twenty years.

Tony and his colleagues at Taronga Zoo and fourteen other organisations have the very important task of maintaining healthy disease-free devils and breeding enough unrelated devils to allow the possibility of release back into Tasmania should the extinction of the current population occur.

“Working at Taronga, I’ve discovered a love for Australian animals I always took for granted. I have cared for the world’s weirdest mammal, the Platypus, the smallest marsupial the Feathertail Glider and now I’m excited to be part of the international effort to save the Tasmanian Devil.  This is exactly what I dreamt of doing as a boy, you can’t get much better than that.”