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Australia exports TAFE NSW grad to help conserve kiwi treasures

TAFE NSW Gosford

Australia exports TAFE NSW grad to help conserve kiwi treasures

TAFE NSW is arming passionate students with the skills they need to gain employment and make an impact at a critical time for both the industry and many threatened and endangered species.  

Arming future workers with these specialist skills comes at the right time, with Australia claiming the unenviable title for the worst mammal extinction rate in the world. The devastating 2019-2020 bushfires impacted nearly 3 billion animals, per the World Wildlife Fund, and climate change is affecting wildlife more than ever in Australia, New Zealand, and worldwide.  

The TAFE NSW Certificate III in Wildlife and Exhibited Animal Care arms students with the skills to care for animals within exhibited animal care facilities and positively promote and educate people about conservation.  

These are skills that TAFE NSW Kurri Kurri graduate and children’s book author, Danielle Rae, has taken across the Tasman Sea into her role as a Zookeeper at Wellington Zoo.  

“The TAFE NSW course provided the foundation for my career. It provided the base knowledge and practical skills I still utilise daily in my role as a zookeeper.

“Many people think I play with animals all day, but zookeepers are animal welfare specialists. We create environments for the species in our care, oversee nutrition and health management, develop enrichment strategies and training programs.”

Danielle, 32, was still in high school when she began volunteering with Hunter Valley Wildlife Park, before gaining her HSC and choosing to follow her passion for animals at TAFE NSW.

“I’ve always loved animals, and, with this qualification, the animal care industry has allowed me to work closely with a huge range of species and travel to some incredible places undertaking conservation field work,” Danielle said.

“One of the things I liked most about my TAFE NSW course was the balance between theory and practical skills. Communication, teamwork, research, and problem solving are all key skills that are essential to this industry and the course allows students to develop these through classroom exercises and real-world experience doing placements in a zoo or wildlife park and visiting several different zoos to gain an understanding of how to implement the classroom learning.

“My teachers were knowledgeable, passionate and genuine individuals who made my learning experience through TAFE NSW a fun and inspiring journey,” Danielle said.

​​​Danielle now shares her passion for conservation with the next generation, authoring her first children’s book, Kara the Kākāpō and the second in her series, the recently released Harry the Hermit Crab

“My books were born out of a love for reading and wanting to help children connect with animals. I already had so many ideas for a children’s book series, but it wasn’t until I moved to New Zealand and learnt about a large, flightless, nocturnal parrot that I found the main character for my debut book.”

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756.