Working at Natureland Wildlife Trust with Hani

Hani, 19 years old, works as a Keeper at Natureland Wildlife Trust. Hani didn’t always know what she wanted to do – she found herself working in a supermarket after finishing High School but wasn’t feeling fulfilled. That’s when she became invested in finding something that she was super passionate about and could see herself doing for the rest of her life.

After some research into the study options and other opportunities out there, Hani came across a course that offered a Certificate in Animal Management (Zookeeping). Hani has always had an interest in animals, nature, and being outside so felt like this could be something she would enjoy doing.

She then began volunteering at Natureland Wildlife and after two months was offered a position.

“Volunteering was the best decision I’ve ever made – I never would have expected to get a job here.”

Hani’s role involves taking care of the domestic and bird sections, where she feeds the animals, cleans their enclosures and provides enrichment as well as ensuring their wellbeing and safety is to standard. Enrichment helps animals thrive by ensuring they are mentally stimulated and challenged. Hani is responsible for these activities – providing different food items, moving furniture, and introducing new objects to play with.

“It is fascinating to see how animals interact with these items and how their brains work – enrichment is a critical part of the job as it keeps animals mentally stimulated and happy.”

Hani highlights the importance of building trust with the animals – sometimes they can be unpredictable, and working with them comes with some level of risk. She has learnt to understand the animal’s personalities, quirks, and cues to ensure they are always safe.

When talking about challenges that come with working with animals, one is when an animal gets sick or injured. This is when training and knowledge is crucial to ensure the animals receive the care they need. Hani has gained many skills on the job, from her peers and through training and says it requires dedication, patience, and resilience.

“It is a rewarding job where I get to build bonds with all the animals – seeing them happy and thriving makes it really worth it.”

Hani is extremely grateful for the opportunity at Natureland and says she gets to work with a great bunch of people who are all passionate about the same thing.

Hani is excited to complete her course and continue to grow her skills and work in different parts of the zoo, like the exotic animals area where they have monkeys.

We asked Hani what she enjoys most about living in the Nelson Tasman region, she said “I love having national parks on the doorstep – I can go to rivers, forests, mountains, beaches, we’ve got everything!” She also likes that Nelson is not too big, but not too small either. “We have everything that we need here”.

Hani enjoys hiking and swimming in the summer. She is also really into art and relaxing when she’s not at work. Hani has some insightful advice for those wanting to follow in the similar footsteps:

“go out there and volunteer, talk to people ask questions, show that you’re interested – there’s so many amazing people in this industry who just want to help you do well and succeed. Just give it a try and see if you like it.”