In part III of our fantastic news series, our Reptile Encounters Reporter gets the lowdown on the wolf-whistling and platypus-loving Wildlife Ambassador Shaan Noble!
Shaan – spending some quality time with a scaly friend
Reptile Encounters Reporter: So Shaan, let’s kick things off. How, when and why did you become so passionate about in wildlife?
Shaan Noble: Good question! So, I’ve been passionate about all creatures great and small since I was a little girl, amazed at the abundance of Australian wildlife that I could discover right in my backyard. My love for reptiles began when I received my first blue-tongue lizard at the age of 12, and I have been passionate about the array of reptiles that Australia has to offer ever since.
RER: Fantastic! So it was pretty natural your education would be in the area you love most…
SN: Absolutely. And, after completing my Bachelor’s degree in Animal and Veterinary Biosciences (majoring in Zoology) at LaTrobe University, I developed a love for Green and Loggerhead sea turtles on a research project in Heron Island, Queensland. I was lucky enough to study the behaviour of these beautiful animals in their natural habitat, and I am intrigued by the fact that they have been around for approximately 150 million years, watching dinosaurs evolve and become extinct!
Beautiful Heron Island, Qld – where Shaan, got acquainted with some sea turtles
RER: And, tell us what you most enjoy about working at Reptile Encounters…
SN: What can I say… my job is a lot of fun! I love being hands on with a diverse range of Australian animals every day and the challenges each day brings. Being able to walk into a room and watch the audience’s faces light up as they interact with Australia’s most unique creatures is very exciting for me. To educate the public about animal conservation through an entertaining, hands on show is so much fun and I look forward to coming into work every day!
RER: So, in your opinion, wildlife conservation is a big issue facing us?
SN: 100%. Australia has one of the most diverse collections of plants and animals in the world, however, we also have one of the worst extinction rates in the world. The protection of our endangered species is a big passion of mine, as we cannot reverse the effects of climate change, habitat destruction, introduced species and poaching. I believe the key to protecting endangered animals is by educating and informing people of their value to humanity. Coming into work and preaching animal conservation puts a big smile on my face each and every day.
RER: Preach on, sister! Now, what are your three favourite animals?
SN: The Orangutan is definitely up there! It’s incredible they share 97% of their DNA with humans. They are very intelligent animals, and sensational learners and problem solvers. It intrigues me how they will take the time to solve a problem. In captivity they are also excellent tool-users and versatile tool-makers.
My second choice has to be the Platypus. They are a very unique Australian species and, along with the Echidna, are the only mammals that lay eggs (known as Monotremes). Due to their unusual features, when first discovered, many European naturalists and scientists even believed they were fake!
Australia’s very own Platypus – one of the only two mammals to lay eggs
Finally, I’m going to go for the Whale Shark. Even though they are the largest fish in the sea, up to 12 metres, they do not hunt prey! Instead they are a filter feeder and they love to eat plankton. I recently completed my under water diving course and I can’t wait to head over to the Ningaloo Reef of Western Australia to swim with these remarkable creatures.
RER: Excellent choices! And – maybe a tough one – your top three Reptile Encounters animals?
SN: Penny, our Musk Lorikeet, is one of my favourites… because I think she likes me the most! She is very vocal and so am I! We enjoy singing along to the radio on our trips to shows, wolf whistling, giving kisses and sharing my fruit snacks.
Topaz, the Stimson’s python, is my next choice. He has beautiful body colouration and patterning, it’s very defined. And, in my opinion, he’s the most attractive of all our snakes. He’s very docile and has a friendly temperament… He’ll often wrap himself around my arm like a bracelet when I am handling him to share my body warmth and feel secure!
Lastly, I’d have to go for Kermit, our awesome Green Tree Frog. Kermit is an entertaining frog – all he thinks about is food. When I stick my hand into the Green Tree Frog enclosure he often mistakes me for a grasshopper and tries to swallow my fingers whole! This tickles a lot and makes me laugh every time.
Kermit – the hungry Green Tree Frog
RER: Fantastic! What is your most memorable Reptile Encounters show moment?
SN: This is a really tricky one. I love the shows where someone in the audience has an extreme fear of one of my animals at the beginning of the show. Helping them overcome that fear by watching me and other members of the audience interact with the animal is one of my favourite things and so rewarding. And getting them to the point where they can interact with the animal they once feared is definitely one of the highlights for me.
RER: Great. And finally, finish us off with your craziest animal fact…
SN: A Koala joey eats its mother’s poo!