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Teen lands dream zoo job thanks to TAFE NSW


Teen lands dream zoo job thanks to TAFE NSW

ROARING SUCCESS: Nathan Turner got a head start to his dream career at Taronga Zoo while studying a TAFE NSW course as part of his HSC.

A Sydney teen with a lifelong passion for exotic animals has credited TAFE NSW with helping land his dream job at Taronga Zoo.

Lane Cove’s Nathan Turner is encouraging teenagers to follow his lead and start a rewarding career in Sydney’s booming tourism by studying at TAFE NSW as part of their HSC.

Nineteen-year-old Nathan couldn’t believe his luck when he was offered his dream job as a Guest Experience Officer at Taronga Zoo in Year 11, shortly after starting work placement at the Zoo while studying a Certificate III in Tourism, Travel and Events at TAFE NSW Ultimo.

“I’ve always felt connected to people and animals, so when I discovered that I could study vocational subjects at school through TAFE NSW in line with my passions, and that this could go towards my ATAR, I jumped at the chance,” he said.

His love for the iconic harbourside zoo started when he was invited to a friend’s birthday party. From there, he joined as a Youth at the Zoo volunteer at the earliest possible age – 13 years old – and now works in multiple roles where he delivers educational presentations to visitors, welcomes guests to Taronga’s VIVID Sydney event Wild Lights at Taronga, facilitates experiences as part of Taronga’s accommodation offering Roar and Snore, operates the Zoo’s switchboard, and more.

“TAFE NSW set me up to jump into my career right after school. My work placement has led me to many different paths that I didn’t think were possible for me, like veterinary nursing and zookeeping.

Dedicated to continuing to chase his dreams, Nathan is furthering his studies with a Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing at TAFE NSW Ultimo along with a Certificate III in Wildlife and Exhibited Animal Care as well as regular volunteering at Taronga Zoo’s wildlife hospital, all while working at the Zoo.

Tourism employers are calling out for skilled workers as 200,000 new jobs have been created in the industry nationwide since December 2021[1]. Visitor expenditure is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels this year[2] as the number of international and domestic visitors increases, creating further demand for workers.

Nathan’s commitment and passion for the industry were recently recognised at the TAFE NSW Excellence Awards, where he was named VET in Schools Student of the Year and Tourism and Experience Services Student of the Year for Sydney. He was also named a State Finalist in the NSW Training Awards in 2022 and received the Boral Youth at the Zoo Achiever Award in 2019.

Media contact: TAFE NSW Media Centre,, 02 7920 5000​​​​.