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Question Time – Frank Mikula, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary's wildlife curator

Summer Reading

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary’s Wildlife Curator, Frank Mikula steps up to answer InQueensland’s 10 questions for summer reading.

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What was the highlight of 2023 for you?
So many great things happened at the Sanctuary during 2023 but I guess it has to be the completion of a very long running project at Lone Pine called Nocturnal. We started this project back in 2020 and it came to completion late this year (October). It has been a long, slow, and hard road to launch and I can certainly say that the day that we finally moved the last of the animals into their new homes and allowed our visitors access to the site was a highlight. To further that, being able to see the enjoyment on our visitors faces as they get to encounter these nocturnal animals at night under red light torches and thermal imagery cameras makes all the hard work worth it.

If you could have done something differently last year, what would it be and why?
Reflecting on the year with a focus on sustainability, if there’s one thing I would have done differently at Lone Pine, it would be to expedite the implementation of our waste reduction initiatives. While we’ve made substantial progress in incorporating sustainable practices, enhancing our waste management strategies earlier in the year could have amplified our continued positive impact on the environment

Who is someone to watch for in 2024?
It’s not an individual, however a collective.  I’m thrilled to have been involved in the kick off of an impactful collaboration between Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) within Queensland. As the curator of Lone Pine, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the positive outcomes of this partnership firsthand. This partnership extends beyond mere cooperation; it’s a shared commitment to education, research, and fostering a deeper understanding of our natural environment. The AWC’s work complements Lone Pine’s mission to inspire conservation action and connect people with wildlife.

What is your most vivid memory of the festive holidays?
Massive crowds of people everywhere you go! On the flip side, no school traffic.

What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2024?
Take more holidays to spend time with the family and improve that work life balance. In saying that, most of our family holidays are spent going to visit other zoos, sanctuaries and spending time outdoors looking for wildlife. This line of work really is a lifestyle choice and not just a job!!

If you could have anyone from any time period attend your Christmas lunch, who would you choose?
Mate, if I could snag a legend for our Christmas lunch, it’s gotta be David Beckham. I reckon he’d bring some top-notch banter and a few tips for a killer free kick. It’d be a ripper day!

Coastal holiday or city holiday?
Coastal holiday. I much prefer spending time away from the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life with the family in the great outdoors.

What are you looking forward to in 2024?
So many things! Making sure I achieve my answer to question 6. All of the wonderful new projects we have planned for the Sanctuary and the benefits they will bring. Summer and the time I get to feed our Estuarine Crocodiles, almost no better way to pass the time.

Do you have a summer book or podcast you can recommend?
I have only just started my podcast listening journey and this is very specific to the animal care industry. “Trainer Talks and Tails” which is put together by one of our Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary staff and one of her industry friends. They are in the very early days with just over 20 episodes out there, so it is a great time to jump and catch up on all things from animal training to conservation field work. One aspect of this podcast I really enjoy listening to is where the guest speakers go over how they got their start in the animal care industry and what steps they needed to take to get to where they are now.

Last comment at all?
To everyone have a safe and happy holidays and see you at LONE PINE!

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