Werribee Open Range Zoo Education Team

Meet the team leading conservation education at Werribee Open Range Zoo.

Kirsten Ryan


Having spent time at Werribee Zoo as a child, I fell in love with African animals. As I got older, my passion for nature and teaching continued to grow, as I worked in conservation education in various counties in Africa and Asia. As a qualified Zoologist and teacher, I get so much joy out of using my skills to help empower young people to make a positive difference for the environment.

I feel so grateful to work with an inspiring and enthusiastic team of Zoo Educators who connect young people to our natural world, as we work together to secure a future rich in wildlife. ​

Amanda Knights


My connection to wildlife was strengthened when I visited Costa Rica to help protect Leatherback Turtles. I will never forget this incredible experience! This passion for animals was accompanied by a passion for drama. I studied Performing Arts and Science at Uni. Working at the Zoo is the perfect way to merge these passions!

We use puppets of critically endangered species to connect students to their stories. It is inspiring that the students I teach at Werribee and Melbourne Zoo could discover solutions that help save wildlife all around the world.

Fiona Hodge


Despite growing up in suburbia, I was fortunate to have a mini menagerie. I nurtured a bevy of furry and feathered friends that ignited my life-long love for all animals. I’ve been teaching for many years, with a particular interest in working alongside students with additional needs.

Based at Werribee Open Range Zoo, I have the privilege of sharing my passion and encouraging each student’s unique connection with nature. I’m delighted to be supporting the next generation of wildlife warriors!

Fiona Nelson


I’ve always had a passion for wildlife, especially African animals. I grew up hearing stories from my Dad and grandparents about their time living in various parts of Africa. I taught in high schools interstate before a career change as a journalist. While working full-time, I managed to land a dream casual job at a local zoo on weekends and I realised educating about conservation was the job I was always meant to do.

Learning at Werribee Open Range Zoo is fun and exciting; I hope to see my passion passed onto extinction fighters of the future.

Man in zoo keeper uniform smiling at the camera

Fisto Bizima


I am blessed to have been raised in Botswana; a country with the most beautiful natural landscapes and wildlife in the world. As a kid, I went to many game reserves and natural parks with my friends to climb trees and count how many plants and animals we could find. Although some were not the safest, they were all crucial in developing my passion, which led me to pursue a Bachelor of Science (Biology major) upon relocating to Australia.

Working at Zoos Victoria has allowed me to share this passion and empower the next generation of conservation heroes.

Woman in zoo keeper uniform smiling at the camera

Gabriella Sabatino


My passion for animals and the environment led me to a degree in Wildlife Conservation Biology and in Education. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled and worked overseas, including volunteering with lions in Zimbabwe, sea turtles in Greece, and Orangutans in Indonesia. This travel helped shape my teaching and inspired me to work with animals.

After working as a high school teacher, I am now lucky enough to combine my passion for wildlife with my passion for education, as a Teacher at Werribee Open Range Zoo.  

Gen Johnson


I could swim before I could walk and am happiest when in, on or under water, and in the company of marine life.

With a teaching degree and a Master’s degree in Science Communication, I taught in schools before the promise of adventure and making a difference had me sailing around the world on a 6-year global scientific and education expedition, studying sperm whales and ocean pollution. Back on land, teaching at Zoos Victoria allows me to continue my passion for science, conservation and education, while enabling young people to change their world by acting for wildlife

Georgia Haywood


I work as an Educator at Werribee Zoo because I love teaching kids about wildlife. My passion for animals started as a child, looking after a number of pets (including a large flock of chickens) and developed as I grew older, travelling the world in search of wild animals such as elephants, monkeys and Orang-utans.

I have a Masters of Teaching, specialising in primary. Before I worked at the zoo, I was a full-time primary school teacher. My goal is to inspire students to care for and understand about wildlife and discover ways they can help wildlife conservation.

Kat Fox


Nominative determinism is a theory that people are more likely to pursue careers that have a connection to their name. What’s a girl with a name like Kat Fox to do? Working with animals was a definite and adding kids seemed like the perfect combination for a fun job.  It’s a job where you feel like you can make a positive difference as a teacher and environmental scientist, but also find yourself teaching about poo, or wearing an animal costume, or even teaching about genetics. I love the variety and that every day I’ll go home with another funny story.

Laura Brockway


Growing up in country Victoria has nurtured my love and respect for the outdoors and all things flora and fauna. I am in constant wonder at the beauty of our natural ecosystems, and that is where I feel most relaxed. After studying science and education at university I spent many years teaching in traditional school settings and used my holidays to travel the world to experience the amazing environments, animals and culture of other countries.

My goal is to help young people grow their own love of our environment and empower them to care for it.

Michael Newell 


I grew up in country Queensland between the beach and the rainforest and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been off finding frogs and lizards in the wild. This fascination went from an interest to a hobby and even an obsession and ultimately lead me to a career in conservation. 

As a trained Zookeeper, experienced Science and Drama teacher and a ‘mock-rock’ artisan, I not only take care of animals but talk to people about them all day too. I strive to inspire and empower the next generation to care for our environment and protect all that call it home.

Phoebe Lynch


From a young age, I wanted to work with people and animals at Zoos Victoria. I was lucky to be given an opportunity in year 10 to undertake my work experience week with the Healesville Sanctuary Education team. I completed my Bachelor of Environmental Management and Bachelor of Education to combine my passion for the environment and education. I am fortunate to have been a teacher at Zoos Victoria since 2008.

I get so much joy connecting students of all ages with nature and wildlife and empowering them to make a difference on a school, local and global level. Every action together makes a difference to help Fight Extinction.

Rachael Whyte


The natural world has always been a place of fascination for me. I love learning about animals, what makes them unique, and how they contribute to their ecosystems. Working to conserve this natural environment has always been very important to me.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved visiting Zoos Victoria and seeing the incredible work that they do. Since completing my Bachelor of Education, I have worked as a primary school teacher, and am now very excited to be part of the Werribee Open Range Zoo team and have the opportunity to educate students on how they can become extinction fighters.

Shaan Noble


My love for wildlife and the marine environment began when I was very little, playing on the beaches of the Bellarine Peninsula and looking through rock pools each summer holidays.

I am an energetic and enthusiastic teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology and a passion for wildlife conservation. I spring out of bed every day to come to work and share stories about animals, build connections to the environment and empower young people to act for wildlife. I feel fortunate to work for an organisation that is dedicated to protecting the environment and educating the conservationists of the future.