Introducing myself - Shaw Abrey

Hi, my name is Shaw. While thinking of something interesting to tell you about myself, my instincts were to relay stories of my childhood in South Africa or give a detailed account of the time I was mock-charged by an elephant on foot. Instead, I thought I would tell you about how a bird park in Brazil influenced my decision to become a graduate ecologist and environmental engineer.

The Umgeni River Bird Park (Durban, South Africa) was built by my grandfather in 1984. My mother worked at this bird park, which meant I spent almost every day with either a parrot on my shoulder, helping with feeding baby birds, or learning how to make kookaburras start to call. This isn’t a brag about my half decent kookaburra cackle, but rather the foundation that inevitably led to my connection with another bird park in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil.

Dr. Alan Abrey (my grandfather)Dr. Alan Abrey (my grandfather)
My grandfather was approached as a consultant for the construction of Parque das Aves in Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. My mother visited Brazil as a commissioned artist to paint massive murals for the (then) new bird park and returned home to tell stories of hand-sized butterflies, bad tempered lizards and beautiful macaws. I’ll admit, visiting the bird park became a dream until my mother decided to move to Brazil and work as a bookkeeper and artist at Parque das Aves.

Robyn Abrey (my Mum)Robyn Abrey (my Mum)

My connection with the bird park started in 2015/16, when I travelled half way around the world and landed in the beautiful rainforest surrounding Foz do Iguacu. I started volunteering at Parque das Aves and found myself either caring for Owl butterfly larvae in the butterfly house or creating environment enrichment (stimulation toys) for all the resident animals at the park. Throughout this time, I got attached to a beautiful blue and gold macaw, saw moon rainbows at Iguacu Falls, and had (very) close encounters with both a Brazilian Wandering Spider and Coral Snake.

With all fingers still attached, and my heart still beating, I returned to Australia where I decided to extend my studies and change from a Bachelor of Engineering into a Double Degree of Engineering and Science. I’ve revisited the park in Brazil several times since, and always seem to leave in absolute awe of nature and the environment.


Hi, my name is Shaw, and I’m a graduate Ecologist and Civil & Environmental Engineer at E2Designlab.