Gabrielle, The Best Animal Keeper
Gabrielle Harris, Curator of Animal Behaviour and Guest Experience at uShaka’s Sea World, has epitomised excellence in marine and animal keeping since her starting days in 1990. And that’s why, 16 years later, Harris has been awarded the prestigious PAAZA Animal Keeper of the Year for 2016!
According to the South African Association for Marine Biological Research (SAAMBR), Harris is the most experienced marine mammal trainer in South Africa. She even oversaw the move of animals from the old Sea World to the new uShaka Marine World facility - a task which took incredible patience and nerves of steel.
She is passionate about her animals and has dedicated her life to their care and display. This passion for animals is equalled by her passion for conservation communication that she achieves through daily presentations at Sea World.
Not only does Harris inspire visitors from all over South Africa and beyond, she is also an inspiration to her colleagues and friends as well:
"I did not know what being in a relationship with an animal meant until I watched Gabby working with the dolphins," said her long-time colleague, Arenea Becker. "Over the years she has mentored and encouraged many mammal behaviourists, some of whom have gone on to have successful careers around the world," she added.
Harris was one of the founders of Animal Keepers of Africa (AKA) and it is largely thanks to her energy and commitment that this group is still running.
Adding to her achievements, Harris also created the Penguin Promises Campaign - a drive that is currently running both nationally and internationally under the auspices of PAAZA and SAAMBR.
We are incredibly lucky and proud to have Harris as a long-standing member of the Sea World team!