Shannon Parker – Gorilla keeper

I’ve been working at Taronga for three years and in zoos for about eight years, previously having worked at both Cairns Tropical Zoo in Queensland and Mogo Zoo on the South Coast of NSW.

My job allows me to come to work knowing that I can help with the conservation of many different animal species, like Gorillas, by sharing my passion for animals with our Zoo visitors. This is how I feel I can make a difference. Even if only one person who listens to the Gorilla talk walks away feeling inspired toward conservation, that is one more person than yesterday.

Gorillas share over 95% of DNA with humans, they are peaceful, intelligent and playful. They mirror us humans in many ways and I find their behaviour, intelligence and social interactions fascinating, so for me it would be a very sad day if we were to lose one of our closest relatives from this world. 

The environmentalist Baba Diom once said that “in the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught”. I feel that our Gorilla talk highlights the plight of Gorillas and provides an opportunity for people to learn and understand one of the world’s most amazing animals. I hope that people walk away feeling a closer connection to these great apes in general and empowered to assist in their conservation by taking action to prevent this species from disappearing from the natural world.

Not many people are aware of everyday actions that affect our wildlife. Simple things like recycling can actually have a dramatic effect on animals out there in their natural environments. One message I try to communicate is the negative effect that the mining of Coltan has had on wild populations of Gorillas and that we all have the power to change this simply by becoming involved in Taronga’s “They’re Calling on You” campaign and recycling mobile phones.

See our Gorilla keeper talk daily at 11:30am