A simple idea by zookeepers to photograph themselves mimicking animals at Symbio Wildlife Park has gone global on social media.
During the last week #zookeepersasanimals images on Facebook have attracted interest from around the world.
A wildlife sanctuary in California even tagged Symbio on Facebook and credited the family run Helensburgh zoo with the idea when its zookeepers decided to do the same.
‘‘Their #zookeepersasanimals re-enactments with Northern Bobcats which was great to see,’’ Symbio zookeeper and photographer Kylie Elliott said.
Ms Elliott said the last week had been so much fun.
‘‘The idea came about when we were having a giggle at lunchtime one day at some of the animal photos we had,’’ she said.
‘‘Four of us (zookeepers) started having a laugh at how funny it would be to re-enact some of those photos. We knew the idea had mileage and..last week we decided to put it into action. The feedback from our Facebook followers has been amazing, everyone is really enjoying it and we have had requests to make calendars and one follower has suggested we start a #visitorsasanimals so we will to look into some of these ideas.’’
Ms Elliott said recreating the animals photos was fun for everyone involved.
‘‘We have had difficulty keeping straight faces long enough to get the pose right for each photos,’’ she said.
‘‘We are fortunate that our staff are so engaged in this. I can’t imagine too many people being happy to..sit uncomfortably in a tree fork while we tell them where to place their hands, head and legs, or to put hay all through their hair. But the outcome has been great, it’s been a lot of fun and a great team building exercise.’’
Ms Elliott said she had finished the present series of photos but the zookeepers wanted to continue to re-create their favourite animal images .
‘‘Perhaps our visitors may see a calendar of our best re-enactments in 2016,’’ she said.
Asked if he would follow the animals lead and go completely natural for a nude calendar to raise funds for wildlife conservation Symbio general manager Matt Radnidge was he would like a chance to prepare.
‘‘You will have to give me time to work out or I don’t think I will make the Top 12,’’ he said.
Mr Radnidge said it was wonderful to see the team so engaged in the project that was going viral.
He said it was great for them because it gave them a chance to showcase their passion.
‘It also reminded him of the generational photos children used to recreate for their parents many years ago.
‘‘The zookeepers just said we should recreate some of the great animals photos . From there it just started to swell and everyone got really excited. Kylie started to get all the photos we wanted to recreate. And virtually the next morning we got started.
"Once we did the first one it was so funny everyone just loved it. We took a whole weeks worth for social media over a couple of days.
"They ran on Facebook from Wednesday to Wednesday. People’s anticipation just kept building during the week.
"Everyone loved it. Some said it was the highlight of their day and they could not wait to see the photo the next day.
"People want more. So I am sure we will be doing more. We will need 12 for a calendar. We have plenty of photo ideas and plenty of staff willing to put their hand up and get involved.’’
Mr Radnidge said there was much laughter and plenty of takes to get each pose right.
The zookeepers were in photos that related to the animals they help look after. But no animals were in the exhibits where the photographs were taken.
Mr Radnidge said it was a great bonding exercise for staff.
‘‘The team we have at the moment is unbelievable,’’ he said.
‘‘They are so hard working. So to get them involved in something like this is just great. It is also a little bit of a reward for how great a team they are. Them getting so involved it shows that care they have for the animals that they have.’’
There are eight full time and part time zookeepers at Symbio and all were involved.