As more and more children are retreating to a digital world, Gumbuya World are using this as a way to reconnect these young kids to nature, and the remarkable animals that live in it, through their recently launched YouTube Channel. We caught up with the channel’s host, Senior Keeper of the Wildlife Trail Ranger Benny, and chatted about his passion for animals and his new online role.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

I grew up as the second youngest of five siblings with mum but I also have another half-sister who lives in England and another handful of step siblings through marriage. (I refer to it as the “family vine” as opposed to the family tree.)

My own family is a little easier to describe. I married my wife Fi over 12 years ago and we have two children: our daughter Lyla who is 10 and son Eagle, 9.

How old were you when you first became fascinated with wildlife?

From as young as I can remember! The Aussie landscape is filled with bugs and lizards and all sorts of creepy crawlies and I would spend my childhood hours searching for them all!

More recently I really became fascinated by venomous snakes as I would encounter them fairly regularly in the kind of work I was doing and they have become my specialty.

Tell us about your most memorable wildlife encounter! 

There have been so many but there was a definite standout just last year. I was travelling the Northern Territory with my family and we came across a huge Wedge-Tailed Eagle feeding on a carcass on the side of the road. We pulled up and moved in for a closer look, just hoping to get a quick photo before he flew off. What happened next was so incredible that if I didn’t have the footage to prove it, you might not believe me. Long story short, I was able to climb up a tree and share a branch with a fully-grown adult wedgie and even got to feed him! Easily my most amazing wildlife encounter!

Gumbuya World’s brand-new YouTube Channel has just launched, and it is fab! What can kids and parents expect when they tune in?

We are going to be showing off all the wild and wonderful aspects of the Wildlife Trail and also showing people what it’s like to be a Wildlife Keeper. There will be informative aspects where we teach about the animals and introduce them to their personalities, there will be special guests and it will also highlight some of the great encounters and experiences you can have when you come visit us. Most of all, we just want it to be fun for the whole family!

What do your kids think about ‘dad’ being the star of a YouTube Channel?

My kids love that Daddy works at Gumbuya World. I even saw that Lyla had written “My Dad is Ranger Benny!” on her hand the last time they visited. I think they are pretty proud.

Have you got a favourite native Australian creature? 

Absolutely! That would have to be the Wedge-Tailed Eagle! That’s what made that encounter in the Territory so special. Whenever I come across them, they literally stop me in my tracks. I get a lot of inspiration from the way they live their life. They are renowned for their vision and focus and when they find a partner, that partner is with them for life. It’s definitely an animal that I hope to work with in the future.

What’s your favourite thing about working with the animals at Gumbuya World? Any funny or scary mishaps? 

My favourite thing is presenting the animals to our guests. I love giving people an up-close experience, especially when you know that you have provided them with an incredibly memorable encounter. It is always a pleasure to be able to provide that.

Presenting pythons can sometimes bring a laugh as they can get themselves into some very compromising positions, so let me just say as a recommendation to perhaps think about wearing tight fitting clothes for a python encounter!

When you’re not working with wildlife, what do you love to do as a family? 

We enjoy the simple things as a family. Going to the park and kicking a footy or throwing a frisbee, having a cuppa at the local café, climbing trees (we should never grow out of that!) or just exploring. The beach is a favourite exploring place for us.

What do you think 10-year-old Benny would think of your current job? 

He’d be shocked to find out that you can have a job where you get to hang out with animals and go on adventures. That’s why I make sure my children know that their future can be anything and they know that we will do our best to support them.

And finally, can you share with us what working so closely with such magnificent wildlife has taught you? 

It has taught me to be really aware of the type of person I am. Animals are really good at picking up on the subtleties of our personalities and how we are approaching them. I’ve learned how important it is to be calm and patient, skills that can be invaluable when you have children! 

You can check out Benny on Gumbuya World’s new YouTube channel at

See Benny in action at Gumbuya World where you can get up close and personal with more than 50 species of remarkable wildlife in the Wildlife Trail.