Sotiris had the chance to work closely with the rhinos at Australia Zoo during his industry placement.
During his industry placement, Sotiris had the chance to work closely with the rhinos at Australia Zoo.
Program: Bachelor of Applied Science (Wildlife Science)  [2016 - New program name: Bachelor of Wildlife Science]
Country of Origin: Cyprus

Industry Practice Work Testimonial

Where did you do your placement?
Due to the nature of my degree, I had to complete 30 days of Industry Practice Work (IPW) in order to be eligible to graduate from The University of Queensland with the Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in Wildlife Science.
Personally, I thought about this for some time and finally decided to do it in such a way that with the completion of my IPW, I would be in the position to compare how the zoo operation and management differs between my home country Cyprus and here in Australia. For this reason, both my placements took place at two different zoos in two completely different countries. My first placement was at Paphos Zoo in Cyprus, between December 2012 and January 2013. This experience lasted for 20 days, with the Christmas break in between. My second placement was 10 days shorter and took place at Australia Zoo at the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
What types of animals did you work with?
Both zoos house a variety of animals from different classes, including birds, reptiles and mammals. Paphos Zoo currently houses hundreds of different bird species from various parts of the planet, while some of these are considered common, others are greatly endangered. Likewise, Australia Zoo houses hundreds of different bird species as well as non-native species of mammals which are considered as near threatened or endangered.
Due to my passion in the world of reptiles, during my work experience at Paphos Zoo I requested whether I could work closer with these for most of my time there. At Australia Zoo on the other hand, I worked in the various departments, looking after a whole variety of animals from the different classes mentioned above. This was an excellent experience which made me realise how captive practices vary between different animal species. Indeed, I am now in the position to confirm that there is still a lot to learn about the captive environment of animals in zoos.
What were some of the tasks you performed during the placement?
Basically, during both placements I had to do the work that any regular zookeeper does on a daily basis. In short, a zookeeper’s task is to take care of animals in captivity, whether in a cage, enclosure or in an open space. Furthermore, a zookeeper has to carefully observe the behaviour of the animal and note down any unusual behaviours, also known as abnormal or stereotypic behaviours. Personally, my favourite task in both placements was in fact the cleaning of the animals' captive environment. The reason is that during the process of cleaning I had the chance to carefully observe the animals' habits and behaviours, and compare them overtime. In addition to this, maintaining a clean captive environment for an animal allows you to observe its behaviour as well as its interactions with it.
How has the placement enhanced your learning experience? 
Without an exception, both placements not only enhanced my learning experience but also offered me the chance to work in the field of wildlife and be part of the greater scientific community. Furthermore, taking care of animals that are on the edge of extinction was a one of a kind experience. During my studies at UQ I have learned a lot of important concepts about animal welfare, behaviour and handling which had equipped me well theoretically, and the placements allowed me to put these concepts into practice. Overall, the whole experience offered me the unique opportunity to closely interact and learn more about animals in captivity as well as to get a basic idea of the husbandry and management protocols that are in place. Indeed, these are very important aspects that will further help me in my future studies and career.
What has been the highlight of your placement?
Working in a friendly environment and meeting people with common interests was a very rewarding experience indeed. Furthermore, from working in groups and teams I made friends from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and by collaborating together as a small community of young conservationists we are able to accomplish what many people are currently hoping for, to stop the cruelty towards animals in captivity and beyond, to restore what has been lost and to educate the general public about how important it is to protect, maintain and save our Earth's flora and fauna.

For more information on this program, please click here