Why did you choose to work at the zoo?
I’ve always had a tremendous respect for nature and wildlife and wanted to find a career that would allow me to be close to those two things. By working in a zoo I get to travel the savannas of Africa, the rain forests of South America, and the tropics of India all in one day! But even more importantly, I get to help improve the quality of life for captive animals, help educate the public on endangered species, and hopefully contribute to the preservation of our environment and the species within it.
Do you like to work with animals why or why not?
Yes I love working with animals. They are all so different and so amazing! Have you seen the specialized claw of the anteater that allows it to rip through termite mounds? The “fingers” on an elephant’s trunk that allows it to pick up and manipulate things? Or how about the length of a giraffe’s neck that allows it pick leaves from the tip top of acacia trees? It’s fascinating to learn about all of their unique adaptations.
Did you have to study about animals a lot if so why?
Yes I did have to study quite a bit. I took four years of college and have a Bachelors degree in Wildlife Biology. This is important on many levels; to understand how animals interact with their environment and with each other; behavioral learning in animals; wildlife diseases; how their bodies work and why; what is essential to their survival; and much much more.
What is your favorite animal in the zoo and why?
I have a very hard time picking just one animal to be my favorite. I enjoy the otters quite a bit because they seem so playful and curious.
When did you start thinking about working in the zoo?
I first started thinking about working in a zoo when I was in high school. Originally I wanted to work as a zoo veterinarian, but I later decided that I didn’t want to work with the animals just when they were sick or in need of vaccinations or dental work. I wanted to work with them every day!
Is it hard to work at the zoo why?
Yes sometimes it can be very difficult working at the zoo. The hardest thing is working outside when its 110 degrees or when it’s really windy or rainy! Another thing that makes it hard working at the zoo is that when an animal is sick it can’t tell you what’s wrong, so you have to be a detective and look for clues to tell you what might be wrong and why.
What is your job?
My job includes a variety of things. Primarily I feed the animals, clean their exhibits and night houses, and observe them closely to make sure all of their needs are being met. I also try and think of ways to keep them interested and interacting with their environment. In the wild an animal’s surroundings are constantly changing. They are encountering other animals, different kinds of plants and landscapes, and they spend lots of time hunting or foraging for food. In a zoo they are in the same environment everyday. I try to do things such as hiding their food so they have to look for it like they would in the wild, or putting different smells in their exhibits that they might like, or finding nontoxic plants from a different part of the zoo that they wouldn’t normally encounter and putting it in their exhibit. All of this and much more is part of what my job includes.
How long have you been working at the zoo?
I’ve been working as a keeper for almost a year but I have spent a couple years volunteering on weekends at a couple different zoos just to get some experience.
Do you plan to work at the zoo for the rest of your life?
This is a career that makes me very happy. I will continue to work at the zoo as long as I feel I am doing a good job and I’m happy doing it!