Celebrate National Zoo Keeper Week and Get to Know a Keeper!

As the blistering summer sun rises above the desert horizon and illuminates Reid Park Zoo, Keepers busily make their way around the animal habitats, cleaning and setting out enrichment items for the animals. Each day, Zoo Keepers must brave the elements, while closely monitoring the animals and teaching guests about them.

It’s because of this, that the American Association of Zoo Keepers has dedicated a full week in July, to the hard-working men and women who are serving as Zoo Keepers across the country. Yep, you heard me right, July 15 through July 21, is National Zoo Keeper Week!

Here at Reid Park Zoo, Keeper Week is all about showing a little love to our fellow hardworking homo sapiens. Throughout the week, we will be sharing videos highlighting some of your local Zoo Keeper friends! In the meantime, here is a quick Q and A with a few of the Keepers here at Reid Park Zoo:

Savannah (Elephant Keeper)

How long have you been a Zoo Keeper, and what first made you interested in becoming a Zoo Keeper?
I’ve been a Zoo Keeper here at Reid Park Zoo for five years. When I was four, I took a trip to Seaworld, and I saw the close relationship between the trainers and the animals. From that point on, I knew that was the only thing I ever wanted to do.

Tell me a little bit about your daily tasks as a Zoo Keeper on the elephant team.
We take care of everything the animals need, from their diet to husbandry needs. We take care of their habitat, clean up after them, rake up any old hay, refresh their diets with new hay, conduct habitat maintenance, and make sure their needs are being met from top to bottom.

What do you enjoy most about your job as a Zoo Keeper?
That’s a tough one (haha). I think the obvious answer is getting to work with the animals, but I really enjoy getting to work with the elephant team. There are nine of us, and getting to be a part of the team and working towards the common goal of taking care of the animals is pretty remarkable.

What was something that first surprised you when you started working as a Zoo Keeper?
I think one of the things that first surprised me was how tired I was going to become – it’s very physical. When I was a kid reading about this job, they always talked about the physicality part of it. Being an athlete, I thought I could handle it, but it really took me by surprise, both how physical and mentally challenging it is.

Kelly (Giraffe Keeper)

What made you interested in becoming a Zoo Keeper?
My mom used to take us to the Como Zoo, in Minnesota – it’s a free zoo, winters are always cold, so we would go to the zoo. When I was three, I told her I was going to be a Zoo Keeper.

What do you enjoy most about being a Zoo Keeper?
I like working with the animals the most, but I also enjoy talking to the guests about the different animals and telling them things they wouldn’t normally know about them.

What’s something that most people wouldn’t know about you?
I was a college cheerleader for the University for Wyoming, so I went from that, to being a Zoo Keeper and doing all the dirty work.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t being a Zoo Keeper?
I have two dogs, so we go hiking and spend a lot of time outside. I also like to go to the gym and working out.

Hannah (Otter Keeper)

What’s your favorite part of being a Zoo Keeper?
I think my favorite part is seeing the animals physically and cognitively interact with the different types of enrichment items you give them.

What first made you interested in becoming a Zoo Keeper?
I was always dragging animals into my house. I grew up in New England and we had a pond, so I would always take in baby turtles that got lost on their way and birds with hurt wings. I would try to rehabilitate them before my mom would make me take them to the appropriate place.

Do you have any pets now?
I have two cats named Moose and Cholla, and a Crested Gecko.

What are you like outside of being a keeper?
I like to think that I’m pretty goofy, I also love to travel and explore.

So on your next visit to the Zoo, please take a moment to say ‘thanks’ to a Zoo Keeper for the quality care they provide the animals every day. Let’s hear it for ALL of the hard-working, dedicated Zoo Keepers out there!