Rhonda and Mike met whilst working at Perth Zoo, they are both qualified, experienced and knowledgeable people in their field. All gained whilst working and volunteering in the animal environment for over 40 years. Both are passionate about animals, animal welfare, conservation the environment and education.
After leaving the Zoo, Rhonda, assisted by Mike, successfully owned and ran for 4 years, an egg hatching education programme to schools, childcare, aged care, special needs, libraries and much more around Perth. We discovered a great need for ‘Animal Therapy’ for many people in different walks of life.
We were often asked “if we had any other animals, talks, we could deliver”, which certainly gave us the idea to start up ‘Meet The Animals’. With our joint knowledge, skills and passion we are ready to deliver this experience to you.
—We are both qualified former Zoo Keepers, working with variety of mammals, birds and reptiles.
—We both have been active volunteer wildlife careers, working at rehabilitation centres and have raised many native fauna in our own time. We have also raised other animals through our work in Zoos and Wildlife Parks.
—We both have participated in volunteer conservation programmes in Australia and Overseas, which included tracking, trapping and tagging animals for conservation programmes. We have been involved in breeding programmes for release into the wild.
–We both have worked on farms and vets, giving us good handling skills.
—We both have gained a network of good contacts over the years with other people involved in the animal industry, from vets, zoo’s, wildlife parks, wildlife careers, conservation groups, animal charities, animal breeders, specialized animal shops, RSPCA and Depaw.
—We both understand and practice good Health and Safety, and good Animal Welfare
—We are both experienced and confident in delivering talks and interacting with animals. We have delivered this with many animals such as, Elephants, Seals, Numbats, Hedgehogs, Birds, Snakes, Dogs and Camels.
Animal Therapy works for me –
Why, ‘Animal Therapy’ is important to me.
About 5 years ago, I started to suffer anxiety which made me, very much aware of the growing mental health issues everyday people are living with. Animals were certainly a big impact on my healing. I gained my own dog (an Australian Kelpie) he was very much tuned into my anxiety and was trained and approved to be my ‘Assistance Dog’. Ben helped me manage my anxiety that often led to major panic attacks. Having my loyal companion, was a major benefit and helped me to manage my anxiety. Having anxiety learning to live with it, has allowed me to gain empathy with people and animals with health conditions. Leading us to help others through our close encounter animal experience.
Rhonda – Whilst growing up in the UK, I spent a lot of my time helping my grandparents on their small family farm. I loved being outdoors in the countryside and I gained a passion for animals whilst spending summer holidays with my godmother who was a keen horsewoman. I have worked on small and large market gardens and organic farms with farm animals. I have worked as a vet nurse assistant in the UK for a small and large animal vet practice.
I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing animals in many zoo’s, wildlife parks, animal rehabilitation centres and vets in Australia and overseas. Some of them were private and small and some large organisations such Perth Zoo, Cairns Tropical Zoo, Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, Bristol Zoo, Jersey Zoo, Dartmoor Zoo, Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts. I have gained more knowledge whilst attending courses and conservation work in Australia, Jersey, UK, Greece and South Africa and have been an active Wildlife Carer for many years, rescuing and hand rearing a variety of animals.
Whilst working in the UK, I was involved in displaying falconry birds to the public, for a small rescue rehabilitation, bird of prey centre. I was also employed as a zoo operation manager, for a small private zoo that wanted to reopen to the public. This zoo was successfully reopened and made into a TV series, Book and Movie. I have participated in a lot of volunteer work; my passion is cockatoo’s and the black cockatoos here in WA. In the past I have trained and been involved in rescuing, rehabilitation, transporting, training, fund raising and education displays for Black Cockatoo’s for Kaarakin. Mike and I own 4 dogs and in 2020 we had the opportunity to gain some work as Dog Handlers, finding Truffles for Oak Valley Truffle Farm in the SW.
Mike – I am a real animal lover, a born and bred Western Australian that has grown up from a little boy with pets around me. I learnt from a young age about the benefits and responsibility of having animals as pets. I am an outdoor person that loves the opportunity to be with animals and on my property. I have my own 5acre hobby farm outside Perth, which is my sanctuary and family home. I have many personal animals as well as ‘Meet The Animals’ for our business. I am a keen dog lover and have owned many breeds of dogs. I have been a dog handler in the Army Dog Squad and have years of animal training experience. Rhonda and I own 4 dogs and in 2020 we had the opportunity to gain some work as Dog Handlers, finding Truffles for Oak Valley Truffle Farm in the SW.
I worked my way up at Perth Zoo, working as an Elephant Keeper Handler for 10 years resulting in being the Head Elephant Keeper for 4 Elephants. I ran the Nocturnal House for 7 years as a Senior Zoo Keeper, working closely with docents, work experience, university students and volunteers. Recently, I have been a Cameleer at a Perth Hills Camel Farm, leading camel rides for the tourist to enjoy the experience of riding a unique camel.
I have experienced remote areas, here in WA, whilst working in the field of conservation and I have been an active Wildlife Career for many years, rescuing and hand rearing a variety of animals. I am extremely passionate about all animals, and to me it’s not just a job when I deliver ‘Meet The Animals’ ‘mobile close encounter animal experience’, its a vocation.