Delivering for Dominos.
My first day volunteering at Australia Zoo… After leaving my motel room at twenty to 7:00 this morning, I reached the reptile lover’s Mecca that is the Australia Zoo just as other volunteers both new and seasoned were beginning to congregate out front. I quickly fell into conversation with Rebecca (yes another Rebecca!), an 18 year old local who was also experiencing her first day as a ‘volley’ at the zoo. Rebecca and I survived some fairly painless training, the worst of which consisted of the ceremonial handing over of the shirts. Our uniform, which required a $50 deposit to ensure the return of such a precious thing, consists of a bright gold floppy polo and a green Australia Zoo baseball cap with a gold, suede brim. Rebecca put it nicely when she said, “I feel like I’m delivering for Dominos.” I think everyone should have to wear a uniform like this once in his or her lifetime. It builds character. Lucky for me, my character building moment is being spent thousands of miles away from my friends and family. Lucky for my friends and family, I have a digital camera!
For my first week I’ve been assigned to “Vet Block.” Though it doesn’t sound like it from the title, I’m working with birds! My first task, lucky me, involved raking up leaves in a gravel area with benches in it, and then carefully raking in parallel strokes to cover up my footprints. Very Zen. Next, I filled the Kookaburra watering hole (word of advice to all Americans, don’t even try to say “Kookaburra” in Australia. They’ll laugh.) Somewhere in there I was yelled at by the disgruntled gardener for treading in his plants. In the afternoon I finally got to go to “Vet Block” which is a big fenced in spot way off from the main zoo, where they’re keeping quite a few large birds until their new enclosures are made. I was told to walk up to the fence (which was locked) and yell “hello” so that one of the keepers could let me in. Unfortunately I was early, so none of the keepers where there. Fortunately, most of the birds knew English, so we carried on hello-ing each other until the keepers arrived. At Vet Block I spent the rest of the day inside birdcages with big, exotic birds untying my shoelaces while I changed their vegetation. Oh, and I also got to scrub bird poop off of the walkways in the Rainforest exhibit! Not bad for a day’s work.