Pride and joy
Name: David Crimp
Job: Pridelands keeper, Auckland Zoo
What does your job entail? My role involves the husbandry and management of our Pridelands animals – rhinos, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, and flamingos. Husbandry involves caring, feeding, treating, training, conditioning and enriching the lives of our animals.
How long have you been doing it? Eleven and a half years mainly in Auckland Zoo’s Pridelands section, including three years at Rotorua’s Wingspan Birds of Prey Trust.
What attracted you to this line of work? As a kid I watched The Zoo a lot. I was inspired by the keepers’ dedication to the animals and trying to engage with the public talking about the conservation of species. In high school I did work experience at Auckland Zoo. On my first day, a giraffe was born. I was hooked!
What training was involved? A one-year Certificate in Animal Management, specialising in captive wild animals. While I studied I volunteered, building up my experience in different zoo sections.
What do you love most about your job? My job isn’t a job, it’s a passion. I’ve been privileged enough to transfer a lion and a rhino to Australia. I’ve seen many giraffe births. It’s a love for the animals, caring for those in my collection, and ensuring their day is of a high standard.
What are the worst bits? It’s demanding – physically, mentally and emotionally. You care so much for these animals, that if one is sick or unfortunately passes away, it is a huge struggle. It can feel like losing a family pet or even a family member. We are a tight team, and sometimes we need to cry on each other’s shoulders.
What motivates you in your work? Doing everything I can for our animals and their wild counterparts. The beauty of having these guys is being able to engage with the public, motivating them to care and want to see a change in the world. Introducing the animals to people and seeing their faces change as they touch a rhino, or experience how tall a giraffe is, then you tell them these animals are struggling in the wild and it really hits home.
What are your career goals? I’m not too goal oriented. I get enough satisfaction from what I spend every day doing!
Do you have any key mentors or people who have influenced you? My ex-boss Nat Sullivan hired me as a casual, recognised my passion, and helped me to channel that and find my direction.
Where did you grow up and what was it like? Feilding, where I went to Feilding High School. It is a farming community, so perhaps that’s where my love of animals has come from.