A Wild Experience
19 Oct 2020
The Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program offers unique and exclusive opportunities to enhance the experience for international and domestic students. Last weekend the Ambassadors spent the day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, getting up close and personal with native Australian fauna while developing a deeper connection to the local ecology.
The Sanctuary’s primary role is to educate people about Australian Wildlife, building an empathetic understanding of the need to preserve the natural environment and native habitats. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary works closely with our universities and the City of Gold Coast to undertake wildlife and conservation research, with 16 projects currently being conducted.
As part of the experience the Ambassadors visited the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, one of only three facilities dedicated to saving sick and injured wildlife in Australia. Last year the hospital treated over 12,500 native animals, many of them injured as a result of a devastating bushfire season. The hospital also undertakes many preventative measures, including a vaccination program to combat the spread of chlamydia throughout our koala population.
During the hospital visit the Ambassadors observed a koala and possum being treated, the latter of which had made a miraculous recovery after being hit by a car. The hospital tour also included an inspection of the facility’s laboratory and the sophisticated (and expensive) technology utilised to diagnose the wildlife.
A number of our international students had yet to see a koala, needless to say the chance to spend time inside the koala enclosure was a wonderful experience, though nothing could top the opportunity of cuddling one. Cute factor aside, the Ambassadors learnt a lot about the nature of these iconic Australian marsupials, including their sleeping habits (up to 22 hours a day!), while also being able to closely observe their unique physical characteristics, like the dual thumb configuration of their front paws.
One of the key aspects of the Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program is that it facilitates networking access to industry leaders, providing professional development opportunities. Jane Jamieson, the Sanctuary’s General Manager of Human Resources, shared her career journey with the students during a presentation as she spoke from the heart about creating a career of value and the importance of making every connection meaningful. The Ambassadors appreciated Jane’s candid assessment of her humble beginnings while illustrating why every job experience, good or bad, provides key insights into your professional development – even though it may not be apparent at the time.
Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the day was the Wild Skies bird show with an exclusive opportunity to see how the birds were trained with a demonstration from the animal handlers. This informative and entertaining session illustrated the interconnected wildlife ecosystem, how humans have shaped our world as the dominant species and why sustainable environmental practices are so critical for our future.