A strong interest in reptiles from a young age eventually led Josh Ruffell to pursue a career path in wildlife care and conservation. At various points in his career, Josh Ruffell served as Curator of Reptiles and Birds as well as Assistant Curator at Australia Zoo.
Located on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, the two acre wildlife park opened in 1970 as the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park. Robert and Lyn Irwin, the parents of famed conservationist Steve Irwin, originally opened the park. In the early 1990s, Steve took over management and along with his wife Terri, renamed the park Australia Zoo. Today it has expanded to 1,500 acres with a staff of more than 500.
Aside from entertaining and educating visitors with wildlife displays, Australia Zoo also funds numerous conservation projects, including one for tiger conservation. It has donated more than $1.5 million to support Sumatran tiger conservation in Southeast Asia through a partnership with Fauna & Flora International.
Australia Zoo also supports the Anatolian Shepherd Dog Program in South Africa. These dogs are raised with herds of livestock and trained to bark and take protective actions to scare cheetahs and other predators away from the herd. This reduces the threat of farmers killing cheetahs when seen in the area, whose population is diminishing due to human encroachment.