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Rosie the bird keeper

  • Tuesday 4th August 2020

Rosie sat down and told us all about how she became a bird keeper and what her favourite parts of the job are!


How did you land this dream job?

My career in animal care really all began in high school while completing year 10 work experience. I had the fortunate opportunity to work at Melbourne Bird Veterinary Clinic, where in those two weeks I met my eventual boss and mentor Dr. Colin Walker. After finishing work experience, I began caring for his personal collection of aviaries made up of over 20 species of parrots and continued volunteering at the clinic. It was all the way back then that I knew I wanted to work with birds. Since then, the moves I’ve made have always been towards that goal. I cared for Dr. Walker’s birds all the way up until I began at Melbourne Aquarium just over 2 years ago.

In that time, I finished my studies in Zoology and Ecology Conservation and at the end of my degree got my second biggest opportunity to break into the industry. I landed an internship in California, America working at Avian Behaviour International where I lived on site and learnt all about animal training with some amazing birds and people. I still look back on my time in the states and pinch myself about the things I got to be involved in and the life-long friends I made.


What's your career highlight so far?

An absolute career highlight had to be working with a Saker Falcon new to being handled by people. Our training sessions began at 9:00pm at night due to the darkness the goal being to gradually introduce light with positive reinforcement. This bird taught me the importance of building rapport in animal training as we became a team reading each other's behaviour. Shortly after coming home I got the best news and accepted a position at Melbourne Aquarium.


What's it like being a penguin keeper?

Penguin Keeper had never been on my radar since they are such a unique bird and up until that point I had mostly worked with parrots and raptors. They are easily the most interesting species I have cared for and everyday has been crazy and wonderful getting to know these birds.


What's your favourite part of the job?

Being able to call certain birds’ friends is easily by favourite part of the job. Each penguin has their own personality and when you become friends with a Gentoo penguin they will sing and stand with you to show affection.


Who is your favourite penguin? 

I’m definitely a part of a mother's club with several of the cutest female Gentoos – Zeus, K.T, Apple, Mouse and Indy. In the mornings these birds will stand together and sing when I come say hello.  


What's your best experience at SEA LIFE been so far? 

My best experience while working for Sea Life is easily getting to become a commercial diver. This qualification allows me to dive with the penguins and work with them from a completely unique perspective.

On land they can be quite clumsy, but underwater the King and Gentoo Penguins glide around me and become very adventurous chewing on all the dive gear.


Who is the cheekiest penguin? 

Tiger is easily the naughtiest penguin underwater! He is very spirited and likes to chew on things he probably shouldn’t! 


What is the hardest part about being a penguin keeper? 

The hardest part about caring for penguins is not choosing favourites and going home every day where there are no penguins!