The Naples Zoo via Crowdrise
April 14, 2011
BENEFITING: The Naples Zoo
Today’s zoo keepers perform a critical role in animal conservation and education. Even today, however, the work of a zoo keeper is still commonly misunderstood. People who love animals and want to work in the Zoo frequently say that "I'll do anything - even clean up after the animals." This is the equivalent of wanting to work in a hospital and saying, "I'll do anything - even be a nurse or doctor." Indeed, the keepers have one of the highest levels of responsibility.
Most keepers in accredited facilities like Naples Zoo have science degrees from universities or even colleges that specialize in training zoo keepers. After all, they are responsible for the complete care of some of the planet’s rarest animals. And for college educated workers, it is a job that challenges physical stamina. They work outdoors in all weather and on weekends and holidays. They scrub, they shovel, they get dirty – every day. They introduce new animals. They provide extra care for sick animals or newborns. They prepare diets and feed. And they absolutely must work in “safety mode” every day because the animals they love are capable of harming them.
Beyond all this, keepers provide behavioral enrichment for their animals to keep them physically and mentally healthy. They train the animals to station at specific locations or present various body parts for health inspections, blood draws, and other veterinary care. They must carefully monitor and observe the rare wildlife in their care. They enter behavior and health data in daily logs. They cooperate with other professionals around the world to provide the best care for the animals. And then they communicate with the public through our Meet the Keeper Series and other public presentations. Above all, they need patience and flexibility for the public, each other, and wildlife. Zoos serve as a window to the natural world. But to be an inspiration for conservation, the creatures in our care must be a healthy reflection of that world – and that depends on these important workers.
Donate today to help continue their crucial work.