How often do we look at people and wish we had their lives?
For animals lovers, Zelie Bullen’s life seems like the absolute dream.
A world renowned animal trainer who has a gift for making animals steal our hearts on the big screen.
A former stunt woman, Zelie has worked in film and television her entire career, but working with animals is her true passion .
In fact, Zelie says her mother is responsible for her love of animals, as they grew up with chooks, birds, cats and dogs.
“ I remember my mum telling people, I think she loves animals more than she loves people”, says Zelie.
From a young age, Zelie had a real connection with animals.
She would watch the pecking order in the chook pen, observing her dog and always watching the dynamics of animals, so by the time she started working with animals Zelie was already well advanced.
That affinity with animals is the reason Zelie is such a successful animal trainer and why she is so well respected in the entertainment industry.
Working with Steven Spielberg on the epic film War Horse is one of her proudest moments and the praise she received from the renowned director she describes in her book Love, Sweat and Tears, as a highlight of her career.
“Thank you for all your hard work. All the love that you have put into your animals is on screen, it’s on my screen and it will be there forever”, Zelie recounts Spielberg’s words.
Zelie has a long list of movie and television credits to her name for both her stunt work and her animal training.
She also has a habit of loving the animals she works with so much that she can’t bear to part with them – so she ends up keeping them!
“I fall helplessly in love with every animal I work with so we do have a kind of a big collection at home in our family”, says Zelie.
The latest member of her family is Phoenix .. the star kelpie in Red Dog – True Blue.
The plan was for Phoenix to go to Producer Nelson Woss who previously owned the original Red Dog Koko, but Nelson admits it was clear to everyone on the set that Phoenix picked Zelie. He was her shadow.
Zelie’s bond with animals is a gift and while she gets embarrassed when she’s told that, she’s proud of what she can achieve with them.
“I’m just so lucky, I love what I do so much. I do know that I get along very well with animals and I have a lot of fun and they do as well .. so I’m not complaining.”
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