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Grampians Meerkats

Monthly Archives: May 2014

Halls Gap Zoo News – May 2014


It’s been a rollercoaster this month. The Golden Possum joey venturing out of mum’s pouch and more macaws being the highlights but the loss of some favourites making for some tough times. RIP Sandy and Valeri


The Cheetah enclosure is coming along and will be ready for their arrival in the near future and once that’s completed the team will move onto the second meerkat enclosure.

Animal of the month

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

Cheetah are the fastest land animal on earth. They can accelerate from 0-100km/hour in 3 seconds and achieve speeds of 112-120km / hour in short bursts. To help them achieve this speed their claws don’t fully retract (acting like spikes on running shoes) and they have tread on the pads of their feet that gives them traction.


90 cm on average (At Shoulder, Adult)

Gestation period

90-98 days

Tail length

60-84 cm (Adult)


21-72 kg (Adult), 0.2 – 0.3 kg (Newborn)

Kids Activities

Download the kids activities sheets for this month featuring the cheetah.


Keeper profile

Five minutes with Naline

Where did you grow up?
Napier, New Zealand

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Can’t tell you all my secrets! Most would agree that baking and eating cake are high on my priority list.
I’m enjoying exploring the region as Vic-SA are new to me.

What made you decide that you wanted to work in a zoo?

Our home was always full of animals dad had rescued with 13 cats & 9 dogs being the norm. I always thought it was great to be outside caring for animals and my first trip to an open range zoo opened my eyes to zoos being here for the animals.

Where have you worked before this job?

  • 6 Years at Taronga Western Plains Zoo as a behind the scenes guide.
  • Orana Wildlife Park & Willowbank Wildlife Reserve as a Zoo Keeper/Head of Section.

Have you had any special training that prepared you for this career?

I’m not sure you are ever truly prepared for this career but I hold a Post Graduate Diploma of Science with distinction on zoology as well as my Certificate in Captive Wild Animal Management and various tourism/hospitality training.

What is most rewarding about your job; what makes it all worthwhile?

Knowing that my actions have made life in captivity better for an animal especially when I see them express their natural behaviours and also when I am able to influence the conservation efforts of the general public so they are inspired to take action.

What’s the hardest thing for you about your job?

  • People not respecting animals!
  • Currently it is having to make the tough decisions about an animal’s quality of life and focusing on the big picture of why zoos are here.

Do you have a favourite animal?

That’s like choosing between your friends. I admire/love them all for different qualities and reasons. I identify best with Cheetahs having raised & worked with them for 4 years. They are great judges of character who work on mutual respect.

Cheetahs can almost be described as very like people when choosing a mate and I find this truly fascinating.

Do you have any advice to offer people who are aspiring to work in this field?

Be in it for the right reasons. It’s not about cuddling animals all day. We work long hours in all sorts of weather. This industry needs people who give the animals a voice by thinking from their perspective and acting in the animal’s interest not for their own gratification.

How long have you worked at HGZ?

3 Months

Funniest story at the HGZ?

I’ve only just started here but I do laugh to hear myself called the “snake lady” by kids as I do many reptile encounters. Coming from NZ, It is a real challenge to be handling snakes especially large pythons. I had only been here a week when Oska the Olive python decided to loop himself through a ladies jeans like a belt & refused to budge. We allowed him to work himself out (I needed two other keepers to help) but it meant him squeezing his “tummy” & he hadn’t yet passed his last feed….Problem solved…a good 8cm of poo!!!!!

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