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Auckland Zoo

Team Leader - Elephants and Seals

Andrew has worked at Auckland Zoo for 20 years - 17 of those on Auckland Zoo's elephant team.

Growing up on a lifestyle block and having numerous pets inspired Andrew to choose a career working with animals. It wasn't until he did work experience at Auckland Zoo on the New Zealand bird and reptile team that he decided to train as a zookeeper.

"The keepers that I observed and helped over my two weeks were truly passionate and knowledgeable about the animals they cared for. They inspired me."

​​​​Andrew feels privileged​ to care for such a magnificent and cheeky animal like Burma. ​

On how New Zealanders can help elephants in the wild, Andrew says, "The best thing you can do is help us help elephants by raising money and supporting Auckland Zoo's Conservation Fund. Just by visiting the Zoo contributes to this fund and we are working with several organisations like the Centre for Conservation and Research, studying wild elephants in Sri Lanka, and The Biodiversity Elephant Conservation Trust's Schools Awareness Programme - visiting rural schools with students that are affected by human/elephant conflict.


Lead Senior keeper - Elephants and Seals

Laurel had always wanted to work with animals - and when she looked into zookeeping and started to understand what it really meant to be a zookeeper, she was hooked.

Laurel explains "you're not only looking after the animals, but are sharing and educating visitors  about them. You're giving children (especially) the chance to connect with a variety of wildlife in a way they may never have an opportunity to do".

She's had so many special experiences with Burma, it's hard to pick just one. ​"Some of my favourite times with Burma are hot summer days playing in the pool in her enclosure cooling down and getting all nice and clean - to then go play in the sand, dirt or mud, or sometimes all three! Seeing Burma enjoying herself - doing things elephants love to do, and getting to share that with her is awesome".​


​Trainee keeper

​Lizzie has been one of Burma's keepers for a year and a half and has had a strong passion to work with animals from a young age.

To Lizzie, being a zookeeper means she can make a difference for the animals she cares for as well as educating people about those species in the wild, the problems they're facing and how we can do our part to help them.

Lizzie says that working with Burma is exciting and rewarding every single day. "The relationships and bonds we build with her are what makes this job different from any other. An incredible part of our job is seeing the way visitors to the Zoo react when they see Burma walking through the Zoo; it is a truly unique experience and one which they will not forget, and you can see this in the excitement in their faces".​​


​Lead Senior Keeper - Elephants and Seals

​​​​​Corryn has worked at the Zoo for 19 years and during that time with the Zoo's elephants for over 12 years.

Corryn says about working at the Zoo, "Auckland Zoo is a truly remarkable place to work, with so many opportunities. I feel very privileged to be able to work with such extraordinary animals that consistently provide opportunities for me to learn."

​On her favourite part of working with Burma and elephants, she says "I love the challenge, the honesty and how every part of our relationship has to be earned and valued. I love the fact that all our relationships with Burma are very unique, just like every friendship that people make are unique to those individuals. It's a relationship based on trust and respect, it's a relationship that forms a partnership".


Keeper - Elephants and Seals

Joel has worked at Auckland Zoo for ten years, 8 of those on the elephant and seal team.

Joel has always had an interest in animals and was fond of elephants from a young age. After visiting the Zoo, seeing the amazing elephant programme, and the strong ties to conservation, he knew it was a path to explore.

On working with Burma, Joel says, "Burma is just so intelligent; no two days are the same with her. Being able to work with an animal with such an incredible level of in​telligence is something very special and a privilege. Despite many years working with her, she still surprises, teaches and amazes me on a daily basis".​

​Trekking through the bush with Burma is Joel's favourite activity. "The first time I ever saw Burma show just how great she is at climbing incredibly steep banks and making it look so effortless, was amazing. I knew Asian elephants were designed to get through the toughest of jungle terrain, but to be with her, going step-by-step through these dense areas was great and i​s always a rewarding experience".


Keeper - Elephants and Seals

Odin has worked at Auckland Zoo for seven​ years, all of those on the elephant and seal team.

Born in Australia, Odin moved to New Zealand as a kid and grew up on a 500 acre farm, surrounded by wildlife. At an early ​age, before he can remember, he said he was going to be a zookeeper. He followed his dream and now he's living it.

His favourite part of working with Burma is how it makes him think outside the box and the bond he's built with her. "Working with her for a day  can leave you physically and mentally exhausted. What I love most is the more time you put into Burma, and harder you work at building a relationship with her, the same is returned. This has to be consistent, meaning it's constant work maintaining such a bond".​​


Trainee keeper

​Elle has always been interested in animals, the environment and conservation - being a zookeeper combines these interests and involves practical experience with amazing animals.

Elle can remember the first time she met Burma and placed a piece of fruit in her trunk. "She was the first elephant I had ever seen. It can be hard to imagine just how big and gentle elephants are until you see them up close. When Burma is out and about on her walks, zoo visitors can have the same appreciation and respect for elephants".

On how New Zealanders can help Asian elephants in the wild, Elle says, "The production of palm oil plays a large role in the destruction of forests that are home to Asian elephants. By not purchasing products that contain palm oil, New Zealanders can help to conserve elephant habitat, as well as many other endangered species"

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