Updated: Mar 17, 2021
Kelsie has just made the move from the Gold Coast, QLD to take up the role of Team Leader for Koalas and Primates at Port Macquarie’s World-Renowned Billabong Zoo.
Working as a Head Wildlife Keeper at Dreamworld she was responsible for managing the overall care of a koala population of between 60 to 70 koalas. Despite loving her job, she was looking for career opportunities that would enable her to move closer to her family who resides North of Newcastle.
Along came the Billabong Zoo opportunity, it provides a closeness to family and also some exciting new challenges working with exotic animals.
Her experience at Dreamworld will be carried on with Kelsie looking after the daily cleaning, feeding and health checks of Billabong Zoo’s koalas and she will also help manage the breeding program. Having gained experience caring for various other Native Australian animals including Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroos, Tassie Devils and Bilbies, she will be a fantastic asset.
Growing up surrounded by animals she was set to forge ahead with a career working with animals. As a child at home with the family’s dog or cat, chooks, and miniature pony, or out on her Pops farm amongst the horses, cows, and sheep, love and respect of animals was instilled at a young age.
Kelsie studied Animal Science at University and did research work in the wetlands surveying birds and frogs and completed work experience at a few wildlife parks. This time sealed it for her and she decided to work with wildlife was what she was most interested in doing.
When asked what she enjoys most about working with animals after now being in the industry, in different positions for some time she says
“Every day is different and there’s always new challenges or ways to change and improve. I also love educating people, especially about our native animals and how they are important in the large scheme of things, and how they can help protect them.”
The Animal Lover
We also ask Kelsie what her favourite animal was, she says “It is so hard to pick an absolute favourite as I’m a big lover of Koalas and also Tassie Devils, but my other favourite animal is our Aussie Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo. They are 1 of 2 native Australian Tree Roos found up in Northern Qld from around Ingham up to the Daintree River.”
Asked for a couple of her fun facts for the species she says “When comparing them to our other species of kangaroo that live on the ground, is that tree roos can hop on 2 feet just like other roos but they can also move their feet independently which helps them walk both forwards and backward through the canopy of the trees!“
Quite obvious that the Aussie Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo is definitely Kelsie’s favourite she adds, “They can also jump from 4 stories high and land without injury. What helps with this is their long tail, which is the longest in the whole kangaroo family. Some other cool differences are their big muscley arms (a bit like a koala) that help them with climbing in the trees, their cute little button ears like a possum, and they eat rainforest leaves, flowers and berries rather than grass.”
Outside of work she loves sport and has played soccer since the age of 5. Kelsie enjoys playing the guitar and any outdoor adventures involving animals, bushwalking and horse riding is top of the list. And she has a rough-scaled python called Lola as her pet snake that she cares for at home.
People’s general response when hearing what she does for work is “you’ve got the best job”, which she thinks she does.
But she is quick to tell us that a lot of people think Zookeepers get to just play with animals all day, but the job is mostly a lot of cleaning and preparing food with a little bit of fun stuff on the side.
When asked what she is enjoying so far about working with the Billabong Zoo team Kelsie’s response was, “Everyone has been so welcoming and supportive. It’s been great to meet new people who are passionate about their job and learn about their experiences and knowledge working with various animals at different wildlife parks and zoos.”
Kelsie is an animal conservation advocate and feels the best way to convey the importance to the younger generation is to try to keep things simple and explain the important roles that various animals play in the environment and why it is important to protect them.
An example being fruit bats. While being noisy and a little annoying they are important pollinators for eucalyptus trees which in turn is important for the survival of koalas who eat those leaves.
She also loves giving kids information on how their actions can improve the lives of the wildlife in their neighbourhood, like planting native plants and flowers that they might eat, or picking up rubbish, and keeping their cats inside and dogs on a leash when out for walks.
For just AUD$90, you can play your part in this worthy initiative to protect and conserve a national icon by adopting one of the lovable marsupials at Billabong Zoo, Koala and Wildlife Park. The zoo’s website has details of all the koalas up for adoption, and their adoption procedures.