SR: Name and job description?
WK: My name is Wade Kilian and I am the Reptile Curator of Crocworld Conservation Centre. I manage the reptile department and ensure the animals are in good health and that their enclosures are kept at a high standard.
SR: What ignited your passion for your work?
WK: I got my first pet Brown House Snake a few weeks shy of my 6th birthday and have been obsessed with reptiles and other animals ever since!
SR: What/Where did you study?
WK: I have completed my advanced diploma in Nature Conservation at the Tshwane University of Technology.
SR: Take us through a 'typical day' in your line of work?
WK: After our morning meeting, I walk the park to check on all of the animals in my department to ensure they are alive and well. I then go to the snake room and clean all of the display enclosures in the snake tunnel before the park opens to the public. The rest of my day is varies depending on the work which needs to be done around the park and often includes anything from reptile removals, general admin, medicating sick animals (which is fortunately uncommon), putting up signs, making social media posts, talking at croc feeds or presenting snake demonstrations or reptile interactions.
SR: What are some of the projects you've worked on?
WK: The biggest and most exciting projects we have worked on are the crocodilian breeding projects. We have been fortunate to source a male West African Dwarf Crocodile which we will introduce to our female in the hopes of breeding them later this year. We are also attempting to breed our American Alligators but unfortunately received a clutch of 52 infertile eggs from one of our females. We have also recently completed a revamp of the snake tunnel.
SR: What will always be your proudest moment in your career?
WK: The proudest moment of my career to date was definitely when I started working at Crocworld as it was the culmination of many years of hard work to complete my studies and gain the knowledge and experience needed to do my job.
SR: What will always be one of your lowest moments in your career?
WK: Losing a critically endangered female West African Slender Snouted Crocodile last year to an injury inflicted by the male during a breeding introduction. Crocodilian introductions can be a bloody affair!
SR: What are some of the challenges you've had to overcome?
WK: The crocodile ponds at Crocworld we built in 1985 and cover a large area, the designs of the ponds are quite outdated and can be quite difficult to manage. Everything else is fortunately quite straightforward.
SR: How do you find the inspiration to continue despite the challenges?
WK: My work can be very frustrating at times but I find it rewarding and consider myself lucky to be able to make a living working with my favourite animals every day.
SR: Tips of someone reading this who would like to be where you are one day?
WK: Read as many books as you can (about all the different types of plants and animals) and gain as much experience as possible through volunteering at different facilities. Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life!