With 70% of Perth Zoo’s staff being female, we have plenty to celebrate this International Women’s Day. Meet three ladies working across different areas of the Zoo: animal care, education and preserving our unique zoological history.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual - celebrating achievement and raising awareness against bias.

Perth Zoo volunteer Eveline

Eveline Read, Perth Zoo Archivist

I started at Perth Zoo as a Docent Volunteer in 1982 (the first recruitment) and since the 1990’s I have been working to preserve the Zoo’s photographic history.

What do you love most about your role at Perth Zoo?
History is important, it is our culture! I have appreciated seeing the Zoo’s focus change from a place purely for entertainment towards conservation.

What is one of your proudest achievements?
When I was a Docent I was honored to be among the first team with staff to introduce enrichment to the animals (activities keeping them mentally and physically healthy). As an archivist I have helped to bring some order to the Zoo’s history. There are many important stories and highlights captured over the years that would be lost if we didn’t have the archives.

Have you had to overcome any challenges of bias in your field?
Personally no, but at the Zoo there were no women working out on the grounds in earlier years. It was only in the 1980’s that Perth Zoo welcomed their first female Zoo Keeper and Horticulturalist. Prior to that women at the Zoo were only working in customer service or administrative roles. Change in Culture takes a long time, but it’s worth it to push for acceptance and for change of attitude.
Perth Zoo Keeper Kaelene with a Giraffe

Kaelene McKay, Perth Zoo Senior Keeper

I started in 1996 on the Bird Section. I graduated high school on the Tuesday and started work at the Zoo on the Friday. Who needs leavers when you land the job of your dreams?!

What do you love most about your role at Perth Zoo?
Building relationships and bonds with my animals is amazing, but being able to share that with the public and see their reactions is very satisfying.

What is one of your proudest achievements?
We were one of the first zoos in Australia to breed Southern White Rhinos. Our not so little bundle of joy, Tamu, (80kg) was born in 2002. She proved to be a strong Perth Zoo female by going on to have three calves at Orana Park in New Zealand as part of the coordinated breeding program.  

Have you had to overcome any challenges of bias in your field?
When I started at the Zoo there were only five female zookeepers on staff, so an all-male workforce was very daunting to me as a 17-year-old-girl. That “old boys club” barrier was hard to break down, but my abilities and determination proved my worth to my fellow colleagues
Perth Zoo staff member Kate McMurtie with Nolga with Western Grey Kangaroo

Kate McMurtrie, Discovery and Learning Officer

I started at Perth Zoo in June 2002 in education, but I have had similar roles previously at Melbourne Aquarium and Auckland Zoo.

What do you love most about your role at Perth Zoo? The animals and the people I work with. I also love the creativity my role requires; designing and delivering experiences to connect people with nature. For anyone interested in a similar career I’d advise them to take any opportunity to share their enthusiasm for nature with others. I enjoy being an advocate for wild animals and their habitats.

What is one of your proudest achievements? The sheer number of visitors I have provided inspiring and engaging experiences to, motivating them to care for our natural world. I’m lucky work in a field where I’m surrounded by like-minded passionate people who inspire me each day.

Have you had to overcome any challenges of bias in your field?
This isn’t a personal bias, but in Discovery and Learning we are very focused on providing experiences for visitors that enable them to take a break from technology and get ‘in touch’ with nature. With phones and computers at our fingertips we are reminding everyone to look up and experience your surroundings.