Meet AustraLearn Koala Tim Tam’s Keeper
Tiffany Hungerford Explains What’s All In a Day for Tim Tam: Sleeping, Eating and Training for Photos
Tim Tam, the koala adopted by the AustraLearn study abroad program, is having an exciting first year as she grows, eats, sleeps and trains.
Recently, AustraLearn Operations Manager, Russell Hosp, interviewed Tim Tam’s keeper, Tiffany Hungerford, at Rainforestation Nature Park in Cairns, Australia.
Here’s what Hungerford had to say.
Q:What inspired you to work with Koalas?
A: They all have really different personalities. Tim Tam is so relaxed and playful. A lot of the time, we’ll come in and she’ll be playing around with Pavlova (the Koala Tim Tam shares the habitat with).
Q: What exactly does a Koala handler do?
A: We’re responsible for doing the koala photos and feeding the animals. When it’s not busy, we look after the wildlife park. For example, today’s not busy, so we’re painting.
Q: What background is needed?
A: I did a trainee-ship that Rainforestation had advertised. I started about three years ago, and I really enjoy it. Before that, I worked at Hartley’s Crocodile Farm.
Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?
A: Since I’ve been here, we’ve managed to breed seven koalas, which is pretty exciting.
Q: Can you describe a normal day for Tim Tam?
A: She sleeps between 18 and 20 hours a day, and when she’s not sleeping, she’s either eating or training to do koala photos for our visitors. Also, she loves to play with Pavlova. It’s really cute how playful the koalas are when they’re smaller, and they all have such personalities.
Q: How is Tim Tam getting used to taking Koala Photos?
A: She’s getting on really well, mostly because she’s got such a good personality. You can tell when she’s getting tired because she won’t cling on to the person in the photo—she’ll kind of push away. She works two-at-a-time with Pavlova, and we try to work them only 30 minutes at a time, though mostly Tim Tam will do 15 minutes, and then switch with Pavlova.
Q: Are there plans to have Tim Tam start breeding soon?
A: Not just yet. Koalas are generally ready to start breeding after about two years. Tim Tam is almost a year and a half, and we generally like our girls to be a bit older and a bit bigger, because both our boys are quite big.