Protecting the zoo from fire, shutting its doors to COVID, being thrust into the media spotlight and subject of an intimate Archibald Prize entry - Chad Staples could never have guessed how 2020 would unfold.
Mr Staples took the reins of Mogo Wildlife Park as fires began on the South Coast in November, 2019.
Almost unbeknownst to the animals, a dozen staff members enacted the facility's fire plan and saved the zoo.
The world watched on as Mr Staples gave interviews and spread the news on social media of how the animals were recovering, and behaving during the COVID shut-down.
In isolation, people logged on to see adorable or majestic pictures of Phoenix the lion cub born in a time of flame, Poppy the zebra foal born at dawn on Anzac Day, Karn the baby giraffe or Kisane the Silverback Gorilla.
"The really good thing is there was such an outpouring of positivity in the region and all around the country," Mr Staples said.
"It was just a crazy year. One of the most amazing things was the real sense of community and bonding with such an amazing group of people in the region."
The animals kept Mr Staples upbeat.
"I've always been incredibly fortunate; animals are my absolute passion," he said.
"It was such a positive outcome and a sense of achievement of saving the animals, being surrounded by them through COVID."
In August, the park unveiled an Archibald Prize entry which resident artist Lord DJ Stief painted of Mr Staples.
Although he found it difficult to look at "because it's in an intimate and private position", Mr Staples said "it was incredibly humbling" to be the subject.
READ MORE: Mogo wildlife hospital almost complete
A wildlife hospital, currently used for zoo animal treatment, will become available for wildlife after operations are finalised, which was halted due to the pandemic.
Filming will begin next week for a Channel 10 and WIN TV pilot, to be aired in late December. Mr Staples said it would be a longer form version of social media posts and "all about close encounters with animals where I can tell a bit more of a story".