Dave Smart - Visitor Experience Manager
After 20 years as a radio host and voiceover artist, I changed careers to become Visitor Experience Manager here at Hamilton Zoo. I'm responsible for the visitors having the best time they can possibly have. I lead a great team responsible for the marketing and promotion of Hamilton Zoo, front of house operations, retail services, volunteer host coordination and administrative support.
The best thing about my job? Are you kidding? I work at the Zoo! I'm really enjoying figuring out ways for people to have a good time while interacting with our animals, learning about conservation and the planet we live on. I never dreamed after all my years visiting Zoos, that I would end up working at one. I am very lucky.
My least favourite thing is when I'm stuck in my office working and I can't get outside into this beautiful environment that we're blessed with.
My favourite animal? It changes. I get excited about animals as I learn more about them and their personalities. When I finally figured out how to tell our cheetahs Jambo and Moyo apart, I took every opportunity to be near them. Right now I'm enjoying the kaka in our Free Flight Aviary because they're so interactive. My kids however would say that my favourite animal was 'Grumpy Duck' which is either of the Paradise Shelducks that hang out opposite the Kunekune pigs quacking angrily when people walk past.
The most memorable experience I've had so far in the time I've been working at the zoo was when Keeper Aaron, me and another chap were in the Tiger House trying to figure out what needed to happen to repair a broken aerial cable. Oz, one of our Sumatran Tigers was in his den next to us and he roared. His roar didn't just shake the room, it filled every inch of the room. I never thought that a sound could take up all available space in an area until that moment. It was simply breathtaking.