I’m Alex, a passionate Zoology student at Newcastle University, currently on placement at Lone Pine
Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia.
Why I was interested in completing my placement abroad
Since embarking on my degree, I’ve always known I wanted to gain some industry experience in the
animal conservation sector. I knew I wanted to complete my placement abroad, not only for travel
and networking opportunities, but also as I can see myself living and working overseas in the future.
It seemed like a natural decision to apply for placement opportunities in Australia, considering I’ve
always held a passion for Australian wildlife and since I’m half Aussie!
Securing a placement
The process for securing my work placement abroad required a lot of commitment and enthusiasm
off my own bat! It involved seeking out hidden opportunities by networking and applying
strategically. I researched over 25 positions within the UK and countries like Australia, Africa,
Thailand and Hong Kong. Despite feeling like an abroad placement was unfeasible (due to the COVID
situation and other various drawbacks), I eventually secured two placements! One with Lone Pine
Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, and the other in Wexford with Seal Rescue Ireland.
Life as a placement student
My role as a placement student at Lone Pine involves shadowing wildlife keepers in a variety of
animal sections, and assisting them with animal husbandry, food preparation and general sanctuary
duties. Lone Pine was established in 1927 as a safe refuge for sick, injured and orphaned koalas. It is
now home to over 100 koalas and 70 diverse species of native Australian animals. At Lone Pine,
there are seven wildlife sections: Koalas, Macropods (e.g. Kangaroos, Wallabies), Mammals, Birds,
Raptors, Reptiles and Barn.
A large part of my day consists of cleaning animal exhibits, creating enrichment activities, and
preparing food for an array of animals. I take part in feed-out procedures, assist wildlife keepers with
daily medication and hospital routines, as well as training new volunteers and students during their
It’s been a real privilege to work with such incredible animals, as well as performing alongside
knowledgeable staff, whom have taken me under their wing, really making my experience at Lone
Pine versatile and exciting. It’s been truly astonishing to witness these animals up close and gain an
insight into the conservation world!
My advice to students thinking about doing a placement year
Not only has my placement heightened my passion for animals, it has also allowed me to apply my
own scientific knowledge and skills in a work setting. I have expanded my career network, alongside
continuing to clarify my career aspirations and future goals.
If you’re thinking about doing a placement abroad, my advice is 100% go for it! Start looking for
placement opportunities as soon as you can, go for what you’re passionate about, and remain
determined – ultimately it is these values which will make you successful in achieving your ideal
placement! Persevere and the hard work pays off, trust me!