Erna Walraven was born in the Netherlands and moved to Spain as a young adult, before moving to Australia in her late twenties. She worked as a translator and interpreter of Dutch, German, French, Spanish and English, as well as a kennel-maid, zookeeper, petrol pump attendant, waitress, aged care worker, farmhand, conveyancing clerk, debt collector and a dog washer. She eventually settled for zoology, as Senior Curator at Taronga Zoo in Sydney for two decades, where she was responsible for the care of some 400 wild animal species.
Erna’s career has inspired her to write many non-fiction books about animals. Her latest, Wild Fathers: What Wild Animal Dads Teach Us About Fatherhood was published by New Holland in 2021. She has travelled to most of Earth’s continents, and she’s currently planning a trip to Antarctica to achieve her life goal of seeing all the penguin species of the world. Erna’s long-harboured dream of living in Spain again came true when she and her husband Alex returned in retirement and bought a falling-down villa to make their home.