2. Once You Have the Job of Being a Zookeeper

The number one thing that zookeepers have to is a ton of physical labor and dirty work. And while the public may be aware of what the dirty work is, I don’t think they really understand just how filthy and disgusting it can be. Someone has to clean up the exhibit that holds ten full-grown elephants. On top of that feeding can also be a daunting challenge. The herbivores’ food comes in bags or bales of hay, which can weigh up to 100 pounds each.

Besides all the physical labor, the book “Careers for Animal Lover and Other Zoological Types” also mentioned that a keeper must watch the animals’ behaviors. “Behavioral changes, however slight, may mean that something is wrong with the animal.” It’s their duty to monitor the animals and make the appropriate calls when they suspect something is wrong with the animal. In order to do this a keeper must understand the animal’s natural behavior, which can vary within a species and train the animals. In an interview with a keeper, Daniel Simmonds, said that training the more dangerous animals “to do things like presenting their arms or perhaps opening their mouth” so that the keeper can examine them without sedatives. The interview also brought up the fact that some of the animals “might require 24-hour care [if] critically injured.” And what many people don’t realize is that no matter how bad the weather is or if it’s a holiday, the animals still need to be cared for every single day.

Another responsibility a keeper has is to handle and cater to the guests. While I was shadowing zookeepers from Busch Gardens, I was surprised by how much the keepers interacted with the guests by answering questions and giving speeches. Friendly interactions will increase the chances of the guests returning to the zoo or wildlife park. And possibly inspire the same love for animals in others. You also want to entertain the animals so that they display their natural behavior for the guests to observe and learn.

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