From tiny Pygmy Marmosets, to cheeky baboons and critically endangered Sumatran Orangutans, Adelaide Zoo is home to some of the world’s most incredible primate species.
As part of our People of the Zoo series, come behind the scenes with Adelaide Zoo Primate Keeper Sophie and see what a not-so-average day is like caring for some of our closest relatives.
Joining the Adelaide Zoo family three years ago, Sophie is one of the dedicated keepers lucky enough to help look after our amazing primate family and has developed a special bond with all of the primates who call the zoo home.
No two days are the same for a primate keeper, with cleaning habitats, preparing meals, training, providing enrichment and educating visitors all in a days work for Sophie.
“I love working with animals because you get to know them, particularly the primates because they’re a lot like us,” Sophie said.
“My favourite part of the day is when you get to do a training session with one of the animals and you get that one-on-one time with them.”
With more than a third of primates listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered or vulnerable, for Sophie, one of the most rewarding parts of her job is being able to raise awareness for the plight of her primate friends.
“I’m passionate about conservation because I want to make sure future generations have the opportunity to see animals in the wild or if not come to a zoo like Adelaide Zoo and learn more about that species,” Sophie said.
“Here at the zoo it’s about spreading the message. For example, with our orangutans we do a talk and tell our visitors why they are critically endangered.
“They are our most endangered primate here at the zoo so if I can share some stories about our orangs and their wild cousins and why it’s important to help conserve them in the wild then that is a fantastic day because I might have changed someone’s opinion.”
Being able to contribute to vital conservation programs working to secure a future for species like the White-cheeked Gibbon and Golden Lion Tamarin is also another highlight of her work as a keeper.
“My favourite moment since starting at Adelaide Zoo was when Tomkay our baboon was born.
“He was our first Hamadryas Baboon born at the zoo in nine years and to be the first to find him was really special.”
Love the zoo? Read how Monarto Zoo Natives Keeper Simon is helping to secure a future for some of Australia’s most endangered animals here.