News | 8 July 2020
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Kid zookeeper reporting for duty

For Mackenzie, 10, being a zookeeper for the day meant hanging out with an emu, feeding bamboo to red pandas, and having lots of fun.

Mackenzie, 10, carrying bamboo at the Wellington Zoo.
Mackenzie getting bamboo ready for the red pandas.

It also meant preparing leaves for meerkats, rounding up sheep, and watching a stampy alpha chimpanzee.

Here is her report, in her words:

Being a zookeeper is incredible, because we all got to see the amazingly cute red pandas and the fascinating emus. The emus don’t have flaps over their ears like humans do. If we didn’t have flaps covering our ears it would look like we had holes in the side of our heads.

When we got to the zoo we got split into groups, my friend Sylvie and I were in the same group and our group name was the Pink Pandas.

An emu walks among children at the Wellington Zoo.

Then we all set off into the zoo, first we went to the ‘meet the neighbours’ section and picked up kangaroo poo. We saw the kangaroos bouncing past on their hind legs and across from the kangaroos were the dingoes. Kiah and Blue were their names.

After that we went up and covered our hands with leaves and put the leaves in boxes that Tory (our group leader) threw into the meerkat enclosure. We all watched as the meerkats surrounded the boxes, digging and sniffing! 

Soon after that we went and saw the kunekune pigs and we rounded up the sheep. We also looked at the weta through the glass and then we went back to eat lunch.

After lunch we went over to where we got the bamboo from and we all helped a zookeeper carry it over to the red pandas. 

A group of children playing at Wellington Zoo.

We separated the bamboo into four groups because there were four red pandas, and we learnt that red pandas aren’t actually pandas they’re actually closer to racoons and that panda just means ‘eater of bamboo’!

My favourite part of the whole day was seeing the alpha chimpanzee stamp around and swing off a rope and land in a net. There was a baby chimp called Kitwe and every time the alpha came past him he scampered out of the way because he knew he had to.

I would certainly want to go back there and see all the amazing animals once again. 

• Every school holidays the Wellington Zoo runs a programme for kids aged 5 to 12. They’ll get to meet the animals, learn from specially trained zoo staff and get sneak peeks behind the scenes. For more info, including remaining dates in July, visit: