From a young age, Michaela Smale was obsessed with Animal Planet. At first, she wasn’t clear what job to pursue, but one thing was certain – Michaela wanted to work with animals.
After high school, she studied marine biology and biodiversity and, for the past three years, has been a keeper at SEA LIFE Melbourne looking after the king and gentoo penguins.
The day begins early when you’re caring for the black-and-white stars of the show.
“We start work at 7.30am and our first job is to make sure the exhibit is cleaned from top to bottom,” she explains. “This involves lots of hosing, scrubbing and shovelling snow. We use a snow machine to blow about two tonnes of fresh snow into the exhibit daily.”
The penguins get bored easily, so Michaela and the other keepers move rocks around, create snow hills for them, and add other items that enrich the birds’ lives.