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Sarah Holleman

Sarah works as a vet nurse at Wellington Zoo. She spends her days looking after sick animals in the hospital, helping when they are having surgery, and nursing them back to health. She enjoys finding out about all of the different things that can affect them.

Sarah always enjoyed insects and animals when she was growing up. Later she worked in cafes and as a nanny in the UK before doing her veterinary nurse training at Massey University,

She spent four years working as a vet nurse in an orthopaedic hospital in the UK, in a general vet hospital in Sydney and as a specialist surgical nurse in Melbourne.

What do you do in a typical day?

Cleaning, feeding and medically treating our sick animals, cleaning the hospital, paper work, research into the various animals we treat. I like the variety of the day, you never know what to expect and the knowledge of the keepers who look after their animals, I learn something every day. There is also the knowledge that we are sharing with our visitors of the special nature of the animals. One favourite part of my job is doing surgery on the animals, whether it be a health check or a more invasive procedure to help an animal. The part I least enjoy is the cleaning!

Did you help look after Happy Feet?

Yes I did help. It was pretty hard to give him food as he didn't like us touching him one bit.

Have you been helping to look after the white kiwi?

Yes, she has been an interesting case. She is feeling heaps better now that the stone has been removed.

When you were little did you know you wanted to be a zoo vet nurse?

Yes, I always had an interest in animals especially the exotic ones; bugs, bees, snails etc. As pets I had an assortment of geckos, snails, magpies, cats, mice and anything that was sick we would try to look after. I also wanted the adventure of working with exotic species.

Who did you admire when you were a kid?

David Attenborough.

What training did you have to do to become a zoo vet nurse?

Massey University Diploma of Veterinary Nursing.

Have you ever been injured doing your work?

I've had one or two scratches from lovely native birds.

How do you stay safe when you are looking after animals that bite?

We always look out for the safety of the animals and ourselves, therefore we use equipment like gloves and nets to keep them safe and make sure we can continue working! I've never attempted to get into a cage with an animal!

What is your favourite animal?

Hhhmmm, my current favourite animal - the little blue penguin.

How many animals have you looked after?

Many, an assortment of animals with the zoo: reptiles, birds, mammals; large and small, primates.

If you weren't a zoo vet nurse what would you be?

On safari taking tours and educating people into conservation of our animals.

What's your favourite book?

‘My family and Other Animals,’ by Gerald Durrell.

What do you do when you're not working?

I love being crafty when not working, and getting into projects like growing vegetables.


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