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SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

23 Tamaki Drive, Ōrākei

Auckland 1071

New Zealand

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Open Times

We are re-opening Monday 31 August!
Regular days of operation: Thursday - Monday Bookings are essential - purchase your tickets online 24 hours in advance with a discount of 20%!
SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium

Meet the Keeper

Junior Penguin Keeper

09 Sep 2020 16:03:53

Meet Nicky

Q: How did you get this job?

A: I saw it advertised through a job seeker website, and thought I’d apply because you’ve got to be in it to win it. I never actually thought I’d even get an interview because I’d only had experience working with companion animals and thoroughbred horses which are far from similar to birds, let alone penguins. But Maddy, our team leader at the time, saw my potential and gave me a chance to prove myself. 

Q: What sort of qualifications do you need? Do you need a degree in Marine Biology/Zoology?

A: I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Waikato University majoring in Animal Behaviour. It was a great foundation to open up my options into the animal care/animal husbandry career I was hoping for. But a keen, hard-working attitude is just as, if not more, important as a degree. Great observational skills are really good too, with nearly 80 birds in our care, you have to always be watching and recording any slight changes in individuals.

Q: What’s your best memory or experience working at SEA LIFE?

A: The fish department are involved with rehabilitating rescued sea turtles, in the hope that they can then release them back into the ocean once they are fit and well. In February 2019, I was lucky enough to tag along on the release of 3 rehabilitated turtles at the Poor Knights. We drove up in the morning, and took a boat across to the islands. The weather was beautiful, calm and warm. After we released the turtles, we got the chance to jump in for a swim and snorkel, and the marine reserve was packed with bright colourful fish. I had never seen so many fish in the wild in one spot. I slept so well that night.

Nicky teaching penguins about hygiene  

Q: Which is your favourite penguin?

A: My favourite would have to be Noah. She is a 9 year old Gentoo. She got her name by choosing to hatch while Kelly’s experienced a flood through the building. She’s so sweet and gentle. When I sit on the pool edge during feeding, I call her nickname “No No” and she tottles over to me to get some hand fed spratt.  Everyone else has to swim for their fish, so it’s very cheeky of her and me. She has a really strong bond with her partner, and usually spends most her time with him. But every now and then she comes to rest next to me for her quiet time while I talk to her about my day.

Q: How do you remember all the penguins names?

A: They are all so unique in their own ways. They have their own ‘possies’ around their habitat which during breeding season when they’re all on their nests with their partners, really helps with remembering who is who, and who is with who. But when you work with them every day, they really do start to all look and act different. Some have rounder bellies like Tux, some have saggy bellies like Major, some have scrunched up toes like Twinkle, some have big feet like Tiny-Tim, some are water babies like Myrtle and some love the lime-light like Xena.

$99

PER ADULT (CHILD $66)
  • Enjoy unlimited entry for a full 12 months!
  • Discounts on experiences, food & beverages, and much more!
  • Skip the queues with express Annual Pass attraction entry

$41

Full Price

$32.80

Adult From (Child from $23.20)
  • Book online a day in advance to save 20%
  • Express entry with mobile ticket entry
  • Price includes a Digi Photo Pass giving you 10 digital photos – valued at $26!