A three-week industry placement for two University of Queensland students has given them a hands-on learning experience at Alexandra Park Zoo.
Having just completed their second year of a Bachelor of Wildlife Science course, the duo has appreciated the opportunity to apply the theory learnt so far in a practical setting.
Alexandra Park Zoo Group Supervisor Kate Beskeen said the zoo offered placement for any relevant industry to aid students in completing the practical part of their studies.
“This is another way Bundaberg Regional Council can support young professionals learning the industry,” she said.
“It brings a new skill set to the Alexandra Park Zoo team in having the longer placements and aids students through their tertiary education.
“As students tell other students about their experiences it will raise a great awareness of our region.”
Kate said the students were carrying out a variety of tasks during their placement shadowing zookeepers to learn how to provide for the welfare of captive animals.
“They are seeing medical examinations, preparing and providing diets, weighing animals and presenting zookeeper talks to the public among other things,” she said.
A love of animals is what drew Tom Sargeant to undertake a Bachelor of Wildlife Science.
When he was one year into the course he knew it was a career he was passionate about and his placement at Alexandra Park Zoo has supported that.
“Putting into practice the theory we’re learning at university has definitely helped,” Tom said.
“Being at a small zoo is also beneficial because in comparison to big zoos, you get to do a variety of tasks which gives you a taste of working with all the animals.
“It’s been good to observe animal behaviours like the emus laying and watching the birds to see if they’re going to be aggressive or do their happy dance.
“Also, observing how the zookeepers train the animals links the theory to practice.
“What they do here is amazing.”
For Eloise Bentley the zoo placement has given her a newfound confidence in her ability.
“The mentoring has been great and has helped me overcome some challenges,” Eloise said.
“I was thrown in at the deep end but was thrown a life jacket of support.
“Public speaking was a big challenge for me and when I was asked to present a zookeeper’s talk to the public on the reptiles and tamarin monkeys, I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it and how easily it came to me.
“Time management was another one and with the advice I was given, I’ve been able to improve my time in attending to the animals and cleaning their enclosures.
“It’s exciting to feel that shift from being the student to gaining confidence and know what I am doing.”
Completing their first industry placement has motivated the students to pursue their future career goals, which for Tom is working with crocodiles in the Northern Territory and for Eloise is working in animal conservation and rehabilitation.