Zookeeper Millie Earns Dream Job

Written by: The Griffith Phoenix


Millie Rossato lands her dream job at Altina Wildlife Park with a little help from TAFE NSW Griffith.

Growing up on the family farm in Coleambally, 18-year-old Millie Rossato developed an affinity with animals from a young age while helping tend to the menagerie of pets and livestock on the property.

The teenager, who had an itch to start her career, took a leap of faith after completing Year 11 in 2020 to pursue her passion for exotic animals.

She enrolled in a Certificate II in Animal Studies at TAFE NSW Griffith and entered into a traineeship with Altina Wildlife Park.

“I’d always loved animals and always been told I had a natural rapport with them so I thought entering into a traineeship at Altina would give me a headstart on my career,” Ms Rossato said.

“I learned so much at TAFE NSW, especially around things like checking vitals and understanding the signs of when an animal is stressed, and it really helped me get my foot in the door.”

Traineeships allow trainees to earn and learn simultaneously, combining paid work with off-the-job training by an organisation such as TAFE NSW.

Ms Rossato said having the privilege to forge close relationships with the animals and helping educate the public about exotic animals were among the best parts of the job.

“You get to work with such a variety of animals; you could be working with the giraffes one day and monkeys or wild dogs the next,” she said.

“There’s a perception that the job is about playing with all day but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

“You have to be constantly vigilant and it can be quite physical work.

“But to have these relationships with such amazing and rare animals is so special and be able to educate people, especially school children, about the conservation side is something I’m very passionate about.”

Ms Rossato plans to gain more TAFE NSW qualifications in future; possibly a Certificate III in Animal Studies and a Certificate IV in Vet Nursing, to broaden her practical skills and knowledge.

“I really want to work in other zoos and focus on conservation and saving endangered species,” Ms Rossato said.

According to the Federal Government’s Job Outlook agency, strong growth is expected for zookeeper roles in the coming years, with employment numbers to grow to 5000 nationally by the end of the year.

TAFE NSW Griffith animal studies teacher, Tamara Percival said the Certificate II in Animal Studies offered both theoretical and practical parts of the industry, with graduates typically going on to work as vet assistants, kennel hands or trainee zookeepers.

“The course is extremely hands-on and we have live animals in class and plenty of state-of-the-art equipment,” Ms Percival said

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