The life of a zoo owner - Bundaberg Region
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The life of a zoo owner

For Ian Jenkins, Snakes Downunder Reptile Park & Zoo is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle and the living embodiment of a long-held dream.

For Ian, owner of the zoo, Snakes Downunder has turned into more than anything he could have ever imagined. Once upon a time, the land on which the zoo now sits was farmland, with Ian and his family operating a mango, lychee, and macadamia orchard, typical of the rolling hills of the rich agricultural Childers area. However, Ian’s true passion was with animals and the farm grew from a dream into a zoo, beyond anything Ian could have imagined, and he has not looked back since.

Over the past 20 years, Ian has grown the property from a small but specialized reptile park, featuring snakes, crocodiles and other reptiles, to a thriving zoo with a variety of animals that now includes mammals like koalas, meerkats and kangaroos.

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(Credit: Bundaberg Photographer Paul Beutel) 

As you watch Ian interacting with the animals, it is immensely clear that he has a connection with each and every member of his zoo family. Whether it’s Loco, the curious nine-year-old red kangaroo who at first glance seems to tower over you, but is really a gentle giant who will approach without hesitation, Matilda, the 20 year old koala who is a living and breathing testament of the importance of koala rescue efforts or Macca, the impressive 4-meter saltwater crocodile with jaws of steel that you’re glad to be behind a fence from, the bond Ian holds with all the animals are unbreakable.

With 50 years under his belt working with animals, Ian has had remarkable experiences many of us could only dream of. From the suspenseful time he and his team craned in Macca, the half tonne saltwater crocodile, in the dead of night under only a spotlight as to not frighten him, to welcoming rescued animals to his zoo from all over the country, giving them a life they would have never had in the wild, Ian has loved every moment of it.

(Credit: Bundaberg Photographer Paul Beutel

Ian is more than just an owner of the zoo and no matter when you visit, you’ll be sure to catch him checking up on his rescued koalas, keeping the meerkats entertained or jumping into the enclosure with the crocodiles. So come say hi to Ian and meet the animals who he calls family on your next getaway. 

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