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ABOUT US

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MIXING ENTHUSIASM WITH EXPERIENCE

Reptile Encounters is Melbourne’s Mobile Zoo. Specialising in educational programs for the K-12 market. Our programs have been running for the past ten years and are of the highest standard. Reptile Encounters has been recognised as a finalist in the Australian Small Business Champion awards for the past two years running.

Our 13 memorable, entertaining and educational wildlife incursions will excite and inspire students and teachers to reconnect with the world around them. The Reptile Encounters experience continues after the show with students demonstrating their learning with tailor-made assessment criteria. Reptile Encounters aims to create a legacy with students and staff, in the hope that they will take steps at home to make a difference. With lasting memories of your Reptile Encounters experience your students will have improved their learning outcomes, they will be happy & healthy, and they will be connected with the natural world, sending them on the path to become better humans.


INSPIRATION.
EDUCATION.
CONSERVATION.

MEET OUR TEAM

Josh Cox

Director

Josh Cox
Director

Josh Cox author of ‘Better Humans’(coming in 2017), public speaker and conservationist, is the Founding Director of Reptile Encounters. For as long as he can remember, he has been passionate about wildlife and its conservation, so he strives to be a voice for animals as they cannot speak for themselves. He has spent many holidays visiting natural parks and zoos around the world, and has a Bachelor of Medical Science from La Trobe University.

In conjunction with his love of animals, Josh also grew up playing loads of sport, from tennis and Australian rules football to little athletics. This drove a keen interest in health and fitness, which is why he ended up studying Medical Science.

Kara U’Ren

Senior Wildlife Ambassador

Kara U’Ren
Senior Wildlife Ambassador

Kara’s love for wildlife and conservation began in her childhood, visiting attractions such as Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo with her family. Her interest in the natural world continued through her school years, and undertaking a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences helped turn this love into a career! Her favourite animal is the Australian Sea Lion; a highly intelligent and powerful predator with many complex behaviours!

She loves introducing audiences to Australian wildlife that they haven’t met or even heard of before, and seeing their smiling faces when they get to touch or hold an animal for the first time. Kara also loves to travel and visit different zoos and aquariums around the world, as well as journey into the wild to see the animals in their natural environment.

Shaan Noble

Wildlife Ambassador

Shaan Noble
Wildlife Ambassador

Shaan has been passionate about all creatures, both great and small since she was a little girl, and was amazed at the abundance of Australian wildlife that she could discover right in her backyard. Her love for reptiles began when she received her first blue tongue lizard at the age of 12, and she has been passionate about the array of reptiles that Australia has to offer ever since.

After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Animal and Veterinary Bioscience, Shaan developed a love for Green and Loggerhead sea turtles on a research project in Herron Island, Queensland. Shaan was lucky enough to study the behaviour of these beautiful animals in their natural habitat and is intrigued by the fact that they have been around for approximately 150 million years, watching dinosaurs evolve and become extinct!

Dan Mangano

Senior Wildlife Ambassador

Dan Mangano
Senior Wildlife Ambassador

Dan has been passionate about Australian wildlife since he was very young, spending countless hours chasing lizards and frogs around his local creek. He got his first Shingleback Lizard at the age of 12, and after that there was no stopping him! Dan is especially interested in endangered species and is focused on keeping up to date with conservation efforts to save at-risk Australian species. He is dedicated to educating the public on what can be done to preserve our unique Australian wildlife.

Dan also keeps an ever-growing menagerie of animals at home, and has kept and bred numerous species of Australian native birds, lot of reptiles, and even hopping-mice! He has completed a Bachelor of Animal and Veterinary Biosciences, and in his spare time enjoys getting out into the bush and observing wildlife in its natural habitat.

Andrew Cox

Customer Service

Andrew Cox
Customer Service

Andrew feels that many of Australia’s animals are unique particularly in the way that they connect humans with a very distant past. His favourite animal, the platypus, is a great example of this connection! The platypus is also his favourite because it is so unusual, odd, and interesting compared to other creatures. Fortunately, due to great efforts to clean up and reduce pollution, more of these creatures can be found locally in our creeks and rivers.

Andrew’s interest in wildlife and conservation first began more than 20 years ago. He has always cared about animals and their well-being! One of his biggest concerns is the effects of climate change on the planet, and the impact they have on the ecosystems where these animals live. While most of his life has been spent using his Bachelor of Science and Education in teaching in the areas of Math and Physics, Andrew now handles the Customer Service duties for Reptile Encounters.

Jenna Frehley

Snake Charmer

Jenna Frehley
Snake Charmer

We have such an amazing and vast array of unique creatures in this country and our reptiles are especially wonderful. You can never run out of amazing things to learn about our wildlife.

I have always been passionate about the importance of conservation and education. Given how devastating and far-reaching the infrastructure of humans has become over the years, it is vital that we realise that our entire world depends on every person doing some small part to give back to nature and all the amazing creatures we share this planet with.

Martha Sevastopoulos

Reptile Keeper

Martha Sevastopoulos
Reptile Keeper

Martha loves Australian wildlife because we have such a diverse range of native animals in this country. Her passion for wildlife started at an early age and she’s been hooked ever since. Reptiles hold a particular interest for her and she absolutely loves having her own reptiles as pets to look after. Martha feels that being around animals and nature fulfils her as a person so volunteering for Reptile Encounters has been a great experience so far, in terms of learning from people who have extensive knowledge and experience with our native fauna. 

Martha is currently studying Conservation and Land Management to hopefully get into the industry in order to help protect and maintain the wonderful species we have here in Australia.

Caitlin Jones

Frog Keeper

Caitlin Jones
Frog Keeper

As a child, Caitlin always wanted a pet rabbit, but travelling around Australia with her family opened her eyes to a world of much more exotic animals. A trip to Central Australia introduced Caitlin to our range of native reptiles, whilst another to Tasmania gave her an appreciation of the local marsupials, including the endangered Tasmanian devil. Caitlin’s most profound animal experience was on a holiday in the Kimberley, where she discovered frogs living in toilet cisterns at every caravan park, and thereafter left no cistern unchecked!

Although frogs obviously reserve a special place in Caitlin’s heart, she is passionate about understanding and caring for all creatures great and small. Caitlin is particularly keen on encouraging everyone to be mindful of the proper environment in which animals should be kept. This means that domestic animals should be kept domestic, and wild animals belong in the wild. It also means not introducing species into an area that they do not belong to, as they will most likely have major impacts on the local wildlife. Caitlin is currently studying a Bachelor of Zoology at Monash University.

Mel Farrelly

Wednesday Crew

Mel Farrelly
Wednesday Crew
Melissa Mackay

Wednesday Crew

Melissa Mackay
Wednesday Crew

Melissa has always had a keen interest in wildlife, with many childhood memories centered around animals; from feeding the birds in her grandparents backyard, to family trips to Melbourne Zoo. Growing up idolizing Steve Irwin, Melissa very quickly discovered that her path in life would involve helping people understand wildlife and wild places; very much believing in Steve Irwin’s philosophy “humans want to save things that they love”. Having always wanting to be a Keeper, it was during her time at university, where she discovered interests in both ethology and population genetics, which she hopes to one day use to help develop conservation programs. Previously, Melissa has volunteered with a couple of different organisations and has experience handling animals of all different shapes and sizes.

Elaine Brock

Monitor Keeper

Elaine Brock
Monitor Keeper

Elaine keeps and breeds skinks and enjoys working with large reptiles, in particular monitor species. Elaine is a member of the Victorian Herpetological Society (VHS) and writes for their online publication ‘Odatria’. She is passionate about reptile education and is also a friend of Lilydale High School’s Reptile House.

Elaine is obsessed with reptiles, whenever she is not caring for them she spends her time planning her next acquisition.

Tanya

Glider Keeper

Tanya
Glider Keeper

Tanya always had a love for animals, ever since she can remember. Growing up, Tanya had cats, dogs and birds, but  was much more fascinated with Australian native animals, and how many amazing, different species there is.  Many trips to zoos and wildlife parks made her realise that she needed to work with native wildlife, and started looking to volunteer, which began with wildlife rescue.

Tanya is currently enrolled in vet nursing, looking to practice with exotic and native wildlife. While looking for placement, she found herself at Reptile Encounters.

Although she loves every animal there, especially the snakes,  the sugar gliders have stolen her heart, and has taken it on as a personal challenge to learn everything about them.

Sam Ljiljak

Godzilla

Sam Ljiljak
Godzilla

From a young age, Sam has been fascinated by the natural world. His fondness for reptiles stems from a love of dinosaurs (and Godzilla) and has only grown since he started volunteering at Reptile Encounters. Sam has been helping Reptile Encounters look after their broad array of wildlife for over a year and enjoys the opportunity to work with such a diverse variety of animals. He has completed a Bachelor of Biological Science with Distinction, majoring in Zoology.

Jamieson Brodie

Wildlife Ambassador

Jamieson Brodie
Wildlife Ambassador

Jamieson has always loved reptiles because they are so different to other animals and possess so much personality. His favourite is definitely the Saltwater Crocodile, he finds them very interesting and enjoys seeing peoples reactions when he pulls one out at a show. Jamieson attended Lilydale High School, and has played a major role looking after all the critters in the schools Reptile House.

Andrew Coates

Wildlife Ambassador

Andrew Coates
Wildlife Ambassador

Ever since Andrew was really young he’s been fascinated by animals and wanted to learn all about them. Driven by this desire to learn, he studied Zoology at Melbourne University, and eventually completed his Masters Degree in 2015. For his Masters project he travelled up to Queensland to look at Geckoes (very cute) and their parasites (very gross).

He loves to teach people about how amazing animals are and how we can work together to help protect them. Andrew thinks all animals are amazing but if he had to choose a favourite it would have to be the octopus because they are so bizarre and intelligent; it’s like they could be aliens from another planet!

Lauren Dole

Wildlife Ambassador

Lauren Dole
Wildlife Ambassador

Lauren has had a passion for all animals since her dad first gave her a legless lizard to hold at the age of 3. Since then animals have been the centre of her universe, volunteering with injured and rescued animals in South America, working with Tree Kangaroos and Bats in Far North Queensland as well as zoo keeping and presenting wildlife shows for the last 4 years. She has a particular soft spot for animals of the sky, such as birds and bats.  Lauren has a Zoology degree and has become increasing interested in the medical side of wildlife so has begun studying a degree in Vet Nursing.

Lauren has had a love of performing ever since she was younger, singing and playing guitar in a band throughout high school and University. She was also a nanny throughout University and loves to build connections between children and Australian Wildlife through education and interactions.

Tamara Tusia

Wildlife Ambassador

Tamara Tusia
Wildlife Ambassador

Tamara has always been crazy about animals of all shapes and sizes! (She even insisted on keeping her own worm farm in her room at the age of 4). Since then though, she has dedicated her time to volunteering with native wildlife and is a registered wildlife foster carer. Tamara finds the animal kingdom especially fascinating and believes strongly in the animal-human bond and the mutual joy it can bring. Tamara really enjoys educating future generations to share this love and excitement for nature and its wildlife so that we can all continue to enjoy it for many years to come!

Chloe Robinson

Invert Specialist

Chloe Robinson
Invert Specialist

Chloe our resident invert keeper enjoys working with animals because they’re very interesting and she likes learning about all the different species. Chloe completed a Bachelor of Bioscience with a major in zoology and will be undertaking Honours later this year. She is particularly fond of insects and arachnids as they are really cool and play a very important role in the ecosystem.

Braelee Hewlett

Wildlife Ambassador

Braelee Hewlett
Wildlife Ambassador

Braelee has loved animals since she was a child. With pets ranging parrots to mice, and scorpions to snakes, she has great experience with all sorts of creatures.  Since starting with us in March 2015, Braelee has had her dream come true by being able to work so closely with birds of prey.

Currently Braelee is studying a Bachelor of Science majoring in Zoology as she continues to foster a love for the native birds of Australia.

Tia Mellios

Beardie Keeper

Tia Mellios
Beardie Keeper

Tia has been enchanted by the entirety of the natural world from before she can remember, her immense passion for wildlife has never wavered. Always seeking to be immersed in nature, she has travelled to exotic and remote places within Australia and internationally, collecting animal encounters along the way, visiting sanctuaries and exploring the wonders of the great outdoors.

Completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Tia utilised her degree as a vessel to indulge in extensive visual and theoretical study regarding wild biologies, the workings of animals and our entanglement with them. Her artwork is an extension of her adoration, deep awe and affinity for wildlife and the prosperity of its future. Being involved with Reptile Encounters has given passage to Tia’s grandest dream of working with animals and the wellbeing of some of her most loved scaly and feathered species. She looks forward to acquiring more knowledge and pursuing studies in wildlife.

Jett

Chief of Security

Jett
Chief of Security

After completing puppy school in 2009 I was hired by Reptile Encounters to take care of security. Whilst Reptile Encounters already had many animals, none had what it takes to keep the property safe. On top of my security role I am also very good at cleaning up any food scraps.

JOSH COX

Why I Started Reptile Encounters

As a society we are disconnected from nature. The advent of technology has changed the way we live, it has changed the way we interact and it has jammed a wedge between us and nature. Children, from the time they are born, are now inundated with technology. It has gone well beyond the 30 minutes of watching Playschool that was the norm a generation ago.

At the same time we have been disconnected from our world and nature, the state of the planet has declined at quite a rapid rate. The threat of climate change is at our door. We are on the precipice of a mass extinction. Now if as a society we are disconnected from nature, we are not going to have the impetus to want to protect the planet.

I started Reptile Encounters because I want to give students the chance to connect with nature. I believe that people need to have that ‘inspire’ moment to be able to make the connection for themselves. By meeting animals in the flesh we engender a respect for our environment and equip students to make a difference!

In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught. (Baba Dioum, 1968.)

TESTIMONIAL

Madeleine Vezis

I booked a show with Reptile Encounters for my son's 3rd birthday party after finding them online. My son LOVED the show even if at first he was a little scared. All the kids got to touch all the animals and really enjoyed the show.

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Emily and Tammy EACH Social and Community Health

Just wanted to thank you again for your generosity. We really wanted to offer the girls a special way to celebrate the completion of a therapeutic group which involved exploring how depression and anxiety affects their...

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Blair Colwell City of Whittlesea

I first came across Reptile Encounters when you delivered a show at my work place for young people with a disability. I was so impressed that I thought I would hire your show for my nephews third birthday. In many families...

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