Canberra businessman Richard Tindale and his wife Maureen have always loved Africa and animals, and have a particular soft spot for big cats. So when the chance came to buy what was little more than a rundown aquarium in 1998 and transform it into a zoo with a focus on animal conservation they embraced the challenge.
Today you can not only visit Canberra Zoo and Aquarium by day, you can spend the night at the Jamala Wildlife Lodge, and sleep in luxury bungalows on the other side of a piece of glass from lions, tigers, bears, and other big beautiful animals.
Richard can often be found chatting to guests and is such an interesting and lovely man I knew I’d have to ask him to take part in the Ten Questions segment. Here’s what he had to share…
Living and working with some of the most beautiful animals on the planet is pretty hard to beat!
If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
Get out of the darn office and spend more time with those beautiful animals!
What’s something about your role that you wish people understood?
Most people understand this, but some still have firm beliefs that all zoos are bad. I respect people’s rights to have that opinion, but our sole purpose is to improve the future of animals through education, by keeping species alive and by contributing to conservation efforts.
What’s your favourite thing to do on your day off?
What’s a cheap and cheerful food secret you (usually) only tell your friends?
I eat too much of my wife Maureen’s cooking. Not necessarily cheap, but (nearly) always cheerful!
If money was no object, where would you go for lunch or dinner?
Dinner in Rome, lunch at Ivy in LA. Preferably on separate days.
Where do you take a friend when they come to visit?
The zoo. OK, also to a great restaurant called Italian and Sons and to the War Memorial.
What’s the best shopping experience in town?
Maureen not going shopping for a couple of days. I’m only good at Bunnings and have lots of unopened tools and gadgets for sale at a cheap price.
Is there a local tourist cliché that’s actually worth doing?
‘Do the zoo’. Believe it or not, I created that, without any outside help!
Is there a tourist attraction nearby that you can’t believe you still haven’t visited yourself?
We tend to get a bit lazy in our home town. I haven’t done a full tour of the museum or the art gallery. Canberra has some of the best tourists attractions in Australia (and some world rated ones) and it would be easy to spend a week visiting them all!
Amanda met Richard Tindale when she stayed as a guest at Jamala Wildlife Lodge at Canberra Zoo and Aquarium.
You can check out what it’s like to spend the night sleeping next to lions, tigers and bears, and some other special animals here.