A Steve Irwin-inspired New Zealand zookeeper has ditched his nine-to-five job to save an orphaned elephant in Bali.

Murray "Muzza" Munro left his job at Australia Zoo to help save Bona, a baby elephant found caught in a snare in Indonesia.

Munro, who also worked at Auckland Zoo, heard about 2-year-old Bona's plight when colleagues at Australia Zoo visited the Seblat elephant conservation centre in Sumatra.

Bona had been without food for weeks, was skinny, malnourished and weak. Staff believed the baby elephant's mother was one of three adults found dead three weeks earlier.


"I saw photos of her and I had to help. It's on my list of things to do, to save an animal's life," Munro said.

Munro imported essential milk and medicine from Australia for Bona, who needed hand-feeding for around 18 months. He had bought enough to feed her for three months and was looking for donations.

Hungry Bona needed 1kg of specialised milk powder a day.

When strong enough, she would be taken into villages to educate locals to prevent elephants being killed for ruining crops. "Bona's future will be to educate and teach humans to live in harmony with elephants," he said.

Munro, who was a team leader in the marketing department at Auckland Zoo and a fundraiser for Australia Zoo, was not concerned about his new volunteer status.

His inspiration came from legendary conservationist Steve Irwin, who died after a stingray encounter in 2006.

"Steve was the reason I went to Australia Zoo."