Catherine Nichols - Team Leader of mammals
Catherine is Hamilton Zoo's team leader of mammals.
I was your typical kiwi farm kid, growing up with all sorts of animals as my parents had a dairy farm, beef and sheep farm and even a goat farm for a while.
Leading up to my role here at Hamilton Zoo I gained a diploma in forestry management, certificate in vet nursing and certificate in animal management (captive wild animals).
The best part of my job is having the pleasure of working with amazing species like chimpanzees, Sumatran tigers and southern white rhinos. My least favourite, well a lot of the keepers time is spent cleaning up after the animals but I don't really mind the cleaning up and finding ways to create interesting and stimulating environments with novel enrichment ideas.
My favourite animal - I love the chimpanzees (but don't tell the other mammals, because I really love the tigers too). The chimps are intelligent yet manipulative beings and I love the way they think and socialise with each other and with us. I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to be part of their lives and I've learnt so much from them.
I have so many wonderful memorable moments from working at Hamilton Zoo, it's hard to pick just one. A big highlight was the successful move of our chimpanzee troop in 2004 and watching them explore their large new home.They have challenged me every day, made me feel part of their family troop (they are my very hairy family) and allowed me to build a strong bond with them.
Seeing how excited our visitors to Hamilton Zoo are when they get to see them up close reminds me how lucky I am to be with them, along with our many other fabulous mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.