As the temperature rises, so does the level of GREEN in and around the animal exhibits. We often receive or overhear comments from guests regarding the “unmanicured” look of the park, or “overgrown” foliage. They don’t make the connection that wild environments and the front lawns of neighborhoods are not really supposed to look the same.
Part of the job of the modern zookeeper is to allow the exotic animal to live a lifestyle that is as natural as possible. In the wilds of the Savannah, there is no weekly mowing schedule. In the deepest jungles of South America, there are no gardeners with pole saws keeping vines away from trees. Each piece of life in the environment has an important purpose.
While we absolutely want our visitors to be able to witness the gorgeous animals we love, it is not always in the best interest of the creature itself to have a freshly cut yard. So we like to let things get a little wild, but then reign it in just enough to keep the humans visually satisfied.
So keep in mind the next time that you visit our zoo – or any living animal park – is that there is a reason it’s not called “tamed-life.”
As professional animal care staff, it is our job to make sure the animals at the zoo are taken care of in every way. Being a zookeeper is much more than regular feeding and exhibit cleaning.
We observe and record all behaviors and interactions between our animals, ourselves and other animals and humans.
We research and often create new enrichment materials and protocols to keep the animals mentally and physically engaged and active in their environment. Many ideas often come from study the animal’s origin countries to appeal to their species innate tendencies, as well as trying to recreate the environmental factors that helped them evolve as a species.
We assist in all veterinary care, and do behavioral training to make medical care easier for both the animal and the humans involved. We are usually the first to notice a change in eating, sleeping, or behavioral changes that may indicate illness, injury, or hormonal/breeding changes.
We stay engaged with other keepers and institutions around the world to stay abreast of new scientific studies, discoveries, or general care routines that increase quality of life for our animals. Our daily notes and samples are often used in research studies regarding certain species.
We keep up with species and environmental conservation efforts locally, regionally, and internationally to adjust how we do what we do everyday. Then we work hard to educate the public about how important it is to take care of our wildlife and planet.
More than anything, though, we truly value and have affection for the beautiful and amazing creatures in our care. Many times we are with animals throughout their shorter lifespans, watching them grow, learn, play and even have families of their own.
Naturally, we want to share the awesome things we see and learn every day. So! Welcome to the world of the JZKeepers!