Cheetahs Can Prosper; Uni Student Brooke Mundey Discovered a Wild New Life after Working with a Tiger Cub. Miranda Cashin Reports

Article excerpt

THE first time Brooke Mundey came face to face with a tiger, she was memorised.

The encounter took place during a

university field trip to the zoo and Brooke was entranced.

aIt's hard to put into words,a she said. aIt was such a big, beautiful animal. It just had this presence and I wanted to know more about them and make sure they were protected.a

As a biology student, she undertook an internship at the zoo and that's when everything changed.

aAfter my first day, I knew I wanted to work with big cats,a she said.

aIt changed everything.a

Brooke had originally gone to study in America on a tennis scholarship. Her dream was to win Wimbledon or an Olympic medal. But after working with a white tiger cub, she knew that a life of fur and claws was for her.

She worked at the Austin Zoo for five years before moving back to Australia to volunteer and later work at Australia Zoo.

Her passion for big cats shone through and she became the senior cheetah handler.

For five years, she worked with the four cheetahs the zoo housed, walking them daily, feeding them and educating the public on the plight of the regal feline.

She said each trainer had to undergo months of training: learning the cheetah's body language, knowing when it was safe to approach the animals a and when to get out of there.

Since cheetahs are such powerful animals, Brooke has to watch her own body language to ensure she isn't giving off the wrong signals.

The chance to educate the public about cheetahs is most important in her eyes.

aOne of the most important aspects of the job is walking the cheetahs around the zoo and educating people on cheetah conservation,a she said. …

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