They are stinky, dirty and never clean up after themselves! The animals at Chehaw may sound a bit like your co-workers, but the zookeepers who care for the animals enjoy every bit of it. Being a zookeeper has many more responsibilities than one might realize.
"It's not all about scoopin' poop, this is one part and this is the dirtiest job, but it's a whole lot of other stuff," said John Brown, zookeeper at Chehaw. Working as a zookeeper requires dedication. Animals don't celebrate holidays or take a break from eating and living. Which means being a zookeeper is more than an eight hour job.
Another part of being a zookeeper is interacting with animals. It is important for animals to be comfortable with human touch so when they need medical attention so keepers can easily help them. For instance, zookeepers hand feed kangaroos fruit and pet them. "It takes a lot of knowledge when it comes to not only animals but medical procedures and a lot of diseases. We have to be up to date on what kind of diseases our animals could have," said Priya Bose, zookeeper at Chehaw.
To help the animals bring out their natural instincts, zookeepers help them engage in enrichment exercises. For example, a lemur's natural instinct is to forage by digging or looking through leaves and flowers. "Instead of just coming out here and handing them a grape and making it easy for them we want them to work" said Danielle Sumner, zookeeper at Chehaw.
A zookeeper's main purpose is to serve the animals. Their daily tasks depend on what the animal's needs are for that day.