Dingoes in docent obsession

WITH two decades of volunteering under her belt at Perth Zoo, Carolyn Shand now considers herself one of the pack with the zoo’s resident dingoes Daku and Mirri.

An avid animal lover, Ms Shand has served as a Perth Zoo docent for the past 20 years.

Like other docents, she gives guided tours and informative talks to patrons but it’s her relationship with the high spirited, furry dingo siblings that is most important to her.

“I do guided tours and walk around different areas of the zoo, but this time I have with the dingoes is an extra thing that I’m privy to,” she said.

“The love of these animals and being able to be a part of their pack is pretty special.”

During her visits with the dingoes, Ms Shand leads the pair on a weekly walk around the zoo as part of behavioural enrichment activities.

“The dingoes dictate where they go around the zoo and their favourite place to visit is the Savannah,” Ms Shand said.

“They absolutely adore the meerkats.

“In the wild, they would never meet and be natural enemies, but the little meerkats come up to the front and the dingoes are absolutely enthralled.”

Ms Shand’s other duties with the dingoes focus on assimilating them with humans through fun activities, which ensures zoo keepers are able to work with the animals more easily.

“They’re super-intelligent; they’re not like dogs at all, they’re much cleverer and quite hard to train,” Ms Shand said.

“We have to keep them stimulated and make sure they have fun but also make sure they know we’re the boss.”

Perth Zoo has about 300 passionate docents who offer their free time to the animal haven through daily guided tours, visitor activities, staffing the information centre, fundraising, animal monitoring and more.

During the past financial year, Perth Zoo docents contributed more than 46,090 hours of service to the zoo.