4. The Animals

Here is the part that most people look forward to in this career, but you can’t allow yourself to think that working with these animals is all fun and games. For starters these animals are in a zoo, which means that most of them are endangered and/or exotic. Each species and even each individual animal has its own unique requirements, like when it comes to diet or medicine. A more serious problem is that these wild animals can go from docile to aggressive in a blink of an eye. You can never get complacent around them. A prime example of this was shown in the documentary on the TV channel, Animal Planet, called the “Awesome Pawsome: Tiger Island,” which takes place in an Australian zoo. On it the manager of Tiger Island, Patrick Martin-Vegue, said that his knee was thrown out because a tiger turned around and bumped the man’s knee with her hip. Even when the tiger wasn’t even paying attention to him, it still damaged him enough to where now he needs a knee brace.

You will also need to be aware what conservation programs they may be in for several reasons. One reason is to help inform the public. Another important reason is that you may have to be the one to make arrangements with other zoos. Since the keepers are the ones who constantly monitor the animals, the other zoo directors will look to your opinion and the veterinarian’s for which animals to recommend for the program. In another animal documentary on Animal Planet called “Growing Up Cheetah,” the cheetah cub’s keeper, Nadine, had to consult with the other keepers to decide which of the cubs would be the best to participate in the international breeding program.

And always keep in mind that it’s best not to get too attached to the animals, which admittedly most keepers can’t control. “From a professional point of view, it’s important that you try and avoid it as much as possible. Animals will die, or move to other collections, and it’s sometimes important to not become too much in touch,” said keeper, Simmonds, during his interview. It’s just that many of the animals are involved in conservation efforts, like the animals in the cheetah documentary, which may involve breeding to keep the numbers up. In situations like these, it’s common for zoos to trade animals to prevent inbreeding and to have a more diverse gene pool. Letting your emotions get in the way could be a problem when it comes down to deciding which animals will stay and which will go.

Here is the link for the “Awesome Pawsome- Tiger Island” documentary part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCWvlJMiUxI

Here is the link for the “Growing Up Cheetah” documentary: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8800575593380999567

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