Zookeeper and Animal Trainer

Zookeeper and Animal Trainer

LisaAnnOKane

Tampa, FL

Female, 32

During my zookeeping and environmental education career, I have interacted and worked with a variety of animals, including brown bears, wolverines, red foxes, moose, camels, mountain goats, dolphins, sea lions, raccoons, porcupines, snakes, raptors and ravens. I am also a young adult author, and my debut novel ESSENCE was released in June 2014 by Strange Chemistry Books. Ask me anything!

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Last Answer on September 18, 2015

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Have you ever seen this clip? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-Uinl-jiEU - can you explain just how they train an animal to do that? Obviously they give him treats, but how do you even begin to teach a walrus how to step forward and back to a beat?

Asked by coryschneider about 9 years ago

I love this question, and thanks for the link, Cory. I actually hadn't seen that video before, and it is fabulous. Complicated behaviors like the ones shown in this clip often take months--if not years--to perfect. What you are seeing is the result of many, many hours of hard work and dedication, both on the part of the trainer and on the part of the walrus. In order for a trainer to teach an animal something that complicated, the behavior must be broken down into many tiny steps. In the case of the tango, the steps would be something like 1) right flipper forward, 2) left flipper forward, 3) right flipper forward again, 4) left flipper forward again, 5) right flipper back, 6) left flipper back, 7) bow to the crowd, etc. When the trainer first begins training, he approaches each behavior individually. For example, if he wants to train "right flipper forward," he will reward the walrus with positive reinforcement (treats, rubs, etc.) every time he successfully moves his right flipper forward. This is done much like the "hot/cold" game we played as kids. The moment the walrus moves his flipper forward--even if it's on accident--the trainer will blow a whistle to signal success and then will quickly give the walrus his reward. Eventually, the walrus will make the connection, and he will happily move his flipper forward whenever directed--usually through a verbal command or a hand signal. Once the walrus has this behavior mastered, the trainer will move on to the next command: "left flipper forward." Eventually, the trainer will string these two behaviors together, and the walrus will realize he only gets his reward when he completes both behaviors in sequence. The trainer will teach this over and over and over until the walrus can perform this entire sequence on command. Once this is perfected, the walrus and his trainer can perform the illusion of a spontaneous musical number to the beat of a song, even though the walrus isn't actually paying attention to the song at all. He is watching his trainer, and he is waiting for the subtle commands that will undoubtedly lead to his reward at the end of the number. (Notice the attention and that juicy fish he got right before they walked off-stage!)

Have you ever had a reunion moment like this one where an animal you hadn't seen in a long time remembered you? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqhJuwUukX8

Asked by becky about 9 years ago

Oh my gosh, isn't that story the sweetest thing you have ever seen?? While I have never experienced anything nearly that dramatic, I did have a great moment a few years back when I returned to a marine park in Florida. While I worked there, I really bonded with four rough-toothed dolphins. Two were very young and didn't remember me at all two years later, but the third seemed to show a flicker of recognition when she saw me. The fourth (my VERY favorite) immediately rushed over and put his chin in my lap. I was so overwhelmed and moved and thankful that I literally cried on the spot. (By the way, leaving facilities has been the HARDEST thing I ever have to do in this line of work. Although the direction of your life changes and you know moving is what you need to do, you still feel like your guts get ripped out every time you have to say goodbye. I tear up just thinking about it.)

How do zoos negotiate animal exchanges (like when you hear about the SD zoo getting 3 pandas from China for a season or something)?

Asked by padres123 about 9 years ago

Hi Padres! Animal exchanges are done for a variety of reasons, including reproduction and genetic diversity. In the case of giant pandas, zoos often acquire them to inspire guests to care about issues like wildlife conservation. (They obviously appreciate the increase in zoo attendance as well. ;)) Nowadays, there are probably less than 1,000 pandas remaining in the wild. Only 110 or so live in zoos, and just 16 of these are housed outside China. The Chinese government regulates the export of pandas to zoos in other countries, and these exchanges can be incredibly complicated. The crux of the exchange is monetary, of course, but many other factors may be at play. Sometimes, the zoos exchange other animals during the trade as well, and often the money must be used in a particular way--i.e., to support panda habitat restoration or research. Pandas can only be loaned for a certain amount of time, and very high standards of care must be met to ensure the panda is put into a thriving, dynamic environment. Hope this is helpful!

Are there any animals that SEEM cuddly and docile to zoo visitors, but are actually ferocious and around which you need to be careful?

Asked by Dan79 about 9 years ago

Absolutely! My general saying is that any animal with a mouth is capable of biting. ;) Many visitors believe a zoo's only dangerous animals are the carnivores, but many of the world's most unpredictable and powerful animals are actually herbivores. Even the cute and cuddly creatures are capable of packing a pretty powerful punch. That's why it's important for animal care professionals to never let our guards down. No matter how long we have been working with a particular animal, we must always remember it is a wild animal, not a pet. As a specific example, I used to work in a facility that displayed arctic foxes. They were the cutest things in the world--fluffy and white, with button eyes and little black noses--but their cuteness transformed the moment anyone got too close. If given the opportunity, they would have probably chewed my fingers off. :)

Has a zoo animal ever gone missing or escaped and did staff completely freak out?

Asked by nat about 9 years ago

I have been fortunate enough to have never dealt with a large-scale animal escape. However, a few years before I started working at one particular facility, a bunch of kids broke in and cut the locks off a number of animal enclosures. The result was chaos, as you can imagine, but thankfully zoos have protocols for dealing with just such a situation. Animals are basically categorized according to their threat level. Large carnivores and some other animals (like an elephant or a moose in rut) are considered the highest priority, of course. An emergency plan is developed the moment the zoo acquires this animal, and staff members are briefed on what to do should an emergency arise. (Evacuate the zoo, for instance, and then grab tranquilizer guns and attempt to corral the animal back where it belongs.) Training is also done to teach the animals how to react in unfamiliar situations, because the animals are often more frightened than the humans. Many animals know their crates are safe places, so zoo staff members often use positive reinforcement to entice them back into their crates. Finally, everyone attempts to keep his or her cool, because animals can often sense our stress. In reality, we are half-terrified, but just like a first responder is trained to react to an emergency, we are, too. Our calm and focus is critical at a time like that.

How did you get into animal training? What was the moment you realized it's what you wanted to do?

Asked by JoHu about 9 years ago

Thanks for the great question, JoHu. (My story is definitely a bit different than most!) In some sense, I think I have always known my heart is in zoos and aquariums. I volunteered at a zoo all through high school, but I allowed myself to be talked out of this career for awhile once I reached college. Some well-meaning teacher or guidance counselor told me I needed to choose a more lucrative career, so I concentrated on the business side of things and graduated with a degree in Theme Park & Attraction Management. (Weird, right? I went to school in Orlando, so it kinda makes sense...) After working in operations management for awhile, I made the decision to return to my roots. I spent a season volunteering for a marine mammal rescue facility in California; I also went back and picked up a lot of science knowledge I lacked. This led to me an environmental education job at a marine mammal display facility in Florida, which led me to my first zookeeping job in Alaska. My career continues to evolve, but one thing is for sure. I don't regret a single minute of my experiences--even though my paycheck isn't nearly as fat as it would have been if I'd listened to that guidance counselor. ;)

Are there any animals not commonly kept as pets that you think should be?

Asked by slowgrind about 9 years ago

Goats! My friends laugh at my love for them, but what's not to like? They're cute, they're relatively docile and they mow your lawn for you! Pigs also make great pets, but they grow bigger than you'd think, so it's important to make sure you have lots of space for them.

In general, I actually recommend NOT owning exotic pets, because there are lots of behind-the-scenes issues with the pet trade. While some exotic animals are raised for this purpose, many more are stolen from their native habitat and smuggled overseas for sale. Infants are often separated from their mothers, and many die during transit.

Wild animals are also much more unpredictable (and sometimes dangerous) than their domestic counterparts, so owners often struggle to take care of them. They usually don't get the nutrition they need, and their "newness" wears off quickly.

Many times, owners eventually decide to "set them free," and this almost always has fatal consequences for the animal. When it doesn't, it disrupts the natural balance of the native ecosystem. (A great example of this is the massive reticulated pythons that are currently running amok in the Everglades--even though they are native to Southeast Asia.)

That being said, I definitely think farm animals should get more props for being awesome. If you happen to own a nice piece of land and can afford to support them, I would highly recommend them!

Why are wolves so vicious but dogs are so docile? Aren't they pretty closely related?

Asked by circle gets the square about 9 years ago

The answer lies in the domestication process that transformed gray wolves into dogs. This process began between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago, when early man began interacting with and taming wild wolves. Not all wolves were suited for this, so only the most "sociable" and "approachable" animals were tamed. These wolves bred with other "man-friendly" wolves, and their offspring grew up even more comfortable around man. As each generation passed, the fear of man gradually left these wolves. And as each generation passed, the wolves' anatomy and physiology began changing. Humans who wanted strong animals to pull their sleds selectively bred their strongest animals together. Humans who wanted fast animals to help them hunt selectively bred their fastest animals together. Eventually, the wolves had changed so much that they weren't even really wolves anymore. That's when they first became dogs. (And that's why there's so much variation between breeds today!) To answer your question, I would argue that wolves aren't actually "vicious" creatures; they are just wild animals that are guided by instinct and strength and prowess. Their natural fear of man is what makes them appear vicious to us. Dogs, on the other hand, have been bred and raised among humans for so long that they view our relationship with them as natural. Their instinct to fear us has been absent for many thousands of years, so they are born with a clean slate against us. It is up to us to ensure we live up to their trust.

Do zoos WANT the animals to mate with each other, or only when there's concern about dwindling populations of a species?

Asked by julia about 9 years ago

Hi Julia! Great question... This DEFINITELY depends on the species of the animal. For obvious reasons, zoos place more emphasis on rare and endangered species, but offspring are sometimes welcome for other species as well. Child-rearing is great behavioral enrichment for many social animals, and it strengthens group bonds as well. The question zoos always have to ask is, "Would a newborn take away resources that could be used for an orphaned or injured animal instead?" I worked at a zoo in Alaska that rescued many animals--including black bears, brown bears, moose and red foxes. We NEVER bred these animals internally, because every newborn would have taken up space that could have been used by a wild animal-in-need instead. (We did, however, have breeding plans for some of our other animals, including our Bactrian camels. Since these animals are already domestic, there's no fear of one turning up orphaned or injured nearby.) Hope this is helpful!

Haha, really interesting about the walrus training. Can ANY walrus be trained like that, or is that one especially intelligent? How about other animals; can pretty much any species be trained to perform a routine?

Asked by coryschneider about 9 years ago

Glad you enjoyed it! Theoretically, any walrus could be trained like that. However--just like some people enjoy the spotlight while others shy away from it--it often depends on the individual animal. First and foremost, keepers train their animals for practical "husbandry" or medical behaviors--like shifting in and out of pens so we can clean, presenting their paws and teeth so we can check for injuries, presenting their shoulders for injections, etc. Once our animals have those behaviors mastered, we begin to shift our focus. If an animal seems to enjoy our training sessions, we often continue with other behaviors to keep the animal's environment dynamic and enriching. If the animal doesn't, we often leave them mostly to their own devices. If an animal REALLY seems to respond to our training sessions, we sometimes make the decision to train that animal for a show or presentation. It certainly takes a special animal to thrive in a public venue like a stadium--just like it takes a special keeper to thrive in that environment as well. As far as your species question, it depends. Animals with higher relative intelligence often respond more quickly than other animals, but that's not always the case. Generally speaking, it is also easier to train aggressive animals than it is to train shy animals, because aggressive animals are already hard-wired to approach us. It is fairly easy for us to redirect their energy once they do, but it is difficult to overcome the barrier of an animal that is hard-wired to run away from us. It takes a lot of initial training just to get them to feel comfortable being near us.

This is gonna sound cold, but why do people freak out so much about endangered species? I mean, if it's an animal that's absolutely critical to the environment, I guess I understand, but would we really be worse off without pandas, for example?

Asked by Sully about 9 years ago

Definitely a valid question, and one I'm sure others wonder about as well. I think the answer depends on your personal definition of the phrase "worse off." From a strictly evolutionary perspective, species like pandas, tigers and polar bears wouldn't have survived this long if they didn't serve a purpose in their environment. Many are indicator species and apex predators, so the health of their entire ecosystem is often mirrored by their personal health. (For example, the loss of polar bears in the Arctic wouldn't just affect polar bears. It would affect arctic foxes, seabirds, walruses, seals, fish, krill, plankton, plant life, etc. If you remove one link in the chain, the entire chain is altered.) That being said, is the entire Chinese ecosystem going to fall apart if pandas are removed from it? No. Probably not. In many cases, humans have altered the environment so drastically that many endangered animals are no longer capable of even surviving in it. So, one could argue that the loss of certain species is just a byproduct of our quickly advancing society. Progress is progress, and sacrifices must be made. This is certainly a valid argument, and I understand why some people feel this way. My personal opinion, though, is that some things have an intrinsic value that can't so easily be quantified. I believe humans--as this planet's apex species--have a certain responsibility to look out for other species. We must particularly protect those species whose survival has been directly threatened by our own personal advancement. Perhaps the responsibility is empathetic; perhaps it is philosophical or ideological. Regardless, I often think of Lyndon B. Johnson's quote: "If future generations are to remember us with more gratitude than sorrow, we must achieve more than just miracles of technology. We must also leave them with a glimpse of the world as it was created, not just as it looked when we got through with it."

Can lions or tigers be domesticated? I've seen footage of people keeping them as pets - sweet as they seem, couldn't those animals snap at any minute?

Asked by C-Moz72 about 9 years ago

Hi C-Moz, you've hit the nail on the head. I highly discourage people from keeping any exotic animals as pets, but I PASSIONATELY discourage people from keeping big cats as pets. Illegal pet trade and animal welfare issues aside, domestication is a process that takes hundreds--if not thousands--of years of selective breeding. In order for an animal to be truly "domesticated," its natural instinct to fear humans must be completely bred out. (See my answer for the "dogs vs. wolves" question on this page for more info about how domestication works.) That's not to say a wild lion or tiger CAN'T be trained to safely--and sometimes affectionately--interact with a human. This happens frequently in zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centers all across the country. The difference is that these animals are so powerful, instinctual and unpredictable that I believe they should only be trained by knowledgeable animal care professionals. Professionals are also WAY better equipped to deal with the enrichment and animal care issues that come up with these animals. Invariably, many of these so-called "pets" end up dumped in shelters or euthanized, and many don't get nearly the exercise or care they need. (See my answer to the "animals not commonly kept as pets" question on this page for more information about this.) Again, I'm not claiming the care of a lion or tiger by a private individual is IMPOSSIBLE; I'm sure many people keep big cats without incident. I just know that I personally wouldn't even feel comfortable keeping a big cat as a pet, and I AM an animal care professional. Better safe than sorry, you know?

Hello,

Please let me know about monobenzone and benoquin cream.

Asked by What is monobenzone cream? about 9 years ago

Wow, this is a hard one! I will preface this by saying I have never used this medication (whether on an animal or on myself), so I am definitely not an expert on this. And I'm not familiar with this medication ever being used on an animal for any reason--except during its testing stage in labs. (I could definitely be wrong, though. Someone please correct me if you know better!) However, I am a little familiar with the medication, so I will give this my best shot. Benoquin (generic name Monobenzone) is a monobenzyl ether of hydroquinone that is used by humans to depigment their skin. It works by increasing the excretion of melanin--which is the pigment that gives our skin color. Without melanin, our skin becomes much lighter. Benoquin isn't recommended cosmetically for things like lightening freckles (because the results can be uneven), but it can be very effective with certain skin conditions like vitiligo--which is uneven colorless patches on otherwise normal skin. (Think Michael Jackson. Although there is some speculation as to whether or not he actually had vitiligo, he definitely used Benoquin--and other drugs--to lighten his skin. The result is the dramatic transformation of his skin tone through the years.) Hope this helps!

How many animals are there in a typical zoo, and how many people are needed to take care of a zoo this size?

Asked by Royce about 9 years ago

I wish there were a simple answer for this question, but there is so much variation between zoos that it's nearly impossible to make a generalization. In terms of staffing, it is also important to take into account what kind of animals each facility has. (Two elephants require way more trainers than 10 turtles, for instance.) Off the top of my head, I know that the San Diego Zoo (a very big and impressive facility) has more than 4,000 animals, but the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago has more than 32,500. Many of the Aquarium's animals are tiny invertebrates and fish, so the number doesn't tell you nearly as much as you would initially think. Using specific examples from my background, I have independently cared for about 25 animals during one shift. Some of these animals were small and easy like baby quails, but some were big and high-maintenance like eagles. I worked in another facility where 15-17 dolphins were taken care of by 6-9 trainers, so staffing definitely depends on the specific animal species. It also depends on each zoo's vision and approach to behavioral enrichment and training. (The more staff we have on hand, the more time we can dedicate to the "fun stuff" like making enrichment for our animals and leading training sessions!)

What zoos do you consider the best in terms of providing a natural habitat for its animals?

Asked by Alex J. Cavanaugh about 9 years ago

Hi Alex, and thanks for stopping by! There are so many amazing animal care facilities out there that it is really hard to pick. There any many standards of care that must be met in order for a facility to display exotic species. Some of the highest of these standards are set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Facilities that are accredited by this organization are considered the very best of the best. (Look for their logo next time you visit a facility!) My personal favorite zoos and aquariums are Disney's Animal Kingdom, SeaWorld's Discovery Cove, the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Georgia Aquarium--although there are many, many others out there that are just as amazing. In my opinion, these facilities have taken extra special pains to provide incredible enrichment and natural habitats for their animals, and they have also done an amazing job with their educational and conservation signage.

I know pandas are ordinarily solitary creatures, but is there a specific term for a "group" of pandas?

Asked by Stephanie about 9 years ago

Hi Stephanie! As far as I know, there is no "official" term for a group of pandas, since they are seen together so infrequently. Unofficially, I believe a group is called a "sleuth" or a "sloth," since that's the technical term for a group of bears. (Random, right? Here's a great link from the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center that lists other bizarre animal groups: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/about/faqs/animals/names.htm Some of my favorites: A group of porcupines is a "prickle," a group of finches is a "charm," and a group of sharks is a "shiver." Who knew?)

Are a lot of people in your line of work vegetarian/vegan, given that they work so closely with animals day in and day out?

Asked by m0ng00se about 9 years ago

Awesome question! There are definitely some, but I'm actually surprised there aren't more. Instead, it seems like many of the zookeepers I've worked with have grown this bizarre tolerance to all the gross raw meat and nastiness they have to handle on a daily basis. Many can even take a fecal sample and then roll right into eating a hamburger. (After hand-washing, of course!) The one exception to this is marine mammal trainers. They handle so much raw fish that most of the ones I know gag at even the thought of sushi!

This is an amazing Q&A - you're really good at explaining stuff :) Did you hear about the Seaworld whale trainer dying in 2010? Do you think they should stop the whale shows when there's basically no way to prevent a killer whale from going crazy?

Asked by andrea s. about 9 years ago

Thanks for reading, Andrea! I did hear about this trainer’s death, and I think this situation is so heartbreaking and complicated. I will give you my opinion on this tragedy, but please understand that this is just my personal opinion--not the official stance of any organization or group of organizations. What happened to Dawn Brancheau was absolutely tragic. Sea World has made the decision to suspend the in-water portion of their orca shows, and I respect that decision very much. They have made the right move if this new policy saves even one other trainer from suffering a similar fate. I do want to stress, however, that I think it is rash for the public to pass judgment on the entire Sea World orca population—or Sea World in general—based on the actions of this one particular male orca. (And don’t be fooled by their identical appearances! Orcas demonstrate behavioral preferences and choices that vary as widely and drastically as human personalities.) Even before this tragedy occurred, I believe Sea World had some of the most impressive safety protocols of any organization in the world. Their enrichment and training program is top of the line, and many of the country’s best trainers, veterinarians and specialists work for them. (A friend of mine actually started at Sea World in 2006. Her dream was to become an orca trainer, but she was assigned to the dolphin department first. She was told it would be YEARS before she was given so much as an orca fish bucket, so you know Sea World takes its orca department seriously.) My personal opinion is that what happened to Dawn Brancheau was a tragic aligning of the stars. Everything from her choice in hairstyles to the time of year to this particular whale’s mood and temperament stacked up and collided to create one moment where one whale made one decision that will forever alter the way marine mammal facilities operate. It is impossible to know if this situation would ever repeat itself. Sea World has operated for many, many years with many, many whales that have never made the decision this whale did. But when in doubt, you may as well err on the side of caution. That’s what I believe Sea World has done, so I very much respect their judgment.

Have you witnessed any grizzly animal attacks during your time in zoos (on humans or other animals)? Any one in particular stand out as the worst?

Asked by grizzly adamz about 9 years ago

Hi Griz! Believe it or not, I actually haven't seen any grisly attacks--just occasional bites or scrapes or bruises. There are a lot less attacks than you might think, and this is partially due to the safety protocols zoos and aquariums put into place before an animal and its keeper even meet. Animals are basically separated into "fight" animals or "flight" animals. The "fight animals" (bears, most big cats, etc.) are hard-wired to stand their ground when threatened, while the "flight animals" (most hoofstock, wolves, raptors, etc.) have evolved to flee. In most zoos, keepers use "protected contact" while dealing with fight animals--and even some flight animals. This means all training must be done through some kind of barrier--like a fence or bars. This prevents most dangerous incidents from occurring. Injuries can occur even when working with flight animals, of course, so keepers must always be alert, and we must learn to "read" our animals before training can occur. If an animal seems "off" for some reason, we must trust our gut and put our personal safety first--even if it means temporarily missing a training session. (In the event we do get injured, 95% of the time it's because of an error on OUR part--not paying attention, not reading our animals correctly, being distracted, etc.) Here are my personal claims to fame: I have been bitten by a raccoon (twice!), bitten by a bottlenose dolphin, footed by a great horned owl, cornered by a Bactrian camel and stabbed in the arm by a mountain goat. (Every time, the injury was my fault!)

Did you hear about the guy who jumped into the tiger pit at the Bronx Zoo? Not that I'd ever do that, but is the best thing to do in that situation just to play dead?

Asked by Ted about 9 years ago

What a crazy story, right? I am continuously amazed by the people who make these decisions. I feel like you would have to be delusional or very, very troubled to actually assess this situation and make the decision to "become one with the tigers." (I can't, of course, speak for this particular man or his particular motives. It's impossible to accurately judge someone without walking in their shoes, so I will try my best not to make sweeping generalizations. I am just extremely bothered by the fact that this man's self-destructive behavior put both him and the tiger at risk.) In all honesty, there isn't much hope for you if you jump into a tiger enclosure. These are powerful, instinctual, apex predators, and every fiber of their being is tuned into capitalizing on their prey's mistakes. They are also lightning fast, and they make kills very quickly and efficiently. However, just for the sake of argument, I believe the best approach when dealing with big cats is to NEVER curl into the fetal position or play dead. This sometimes works with startled bears, but it simply signals an easy meal to big cats. If you encounter a big cat in the wild, the best idea is just to stay calm and hope the animal doesn't see or become interested in you. If it does, speak loudly, raise your arms and try to scare it away. (Big cats are notoriously shy, so this may actually work.) If the animal refuses to leave (which is way more likely in a zoo setting), you should never turn your back or try to run, because this will incite the tiger's natural chase instinct. Tigers also tend to go for the head and throat, so protect your neck and strike at the animal's face, using anything you can grab as a weapon. In all likelihood, of course, you're a dead man if you don't get some assistance from the tiger's zookeepers. This is how the man at the Bronx Zoo survived. The tiger's keepers managed to keep their cool and distract the tiger before anything too tragic happened. The man looks like he will recover, and the tiger is fine, too. This is the best news of all, because nothing upsets me more than when animals get punished for simply acting on their natural instincts. Kudos to the amazing staff at the Bronx Zoo for averting this tragedy with levelheadedness, skill and precision!

What animal are kids usually most excited to see?

Asked by catherine about 9 years ago

Elephants! And big predators like polar bears or tigers or sharks. Also, who can resist a dolphin or a sea lion? I suppose a better answer would be that it really depends on the child. Some kids freak out over petting zoo animals, while some love aviaries where little birds land on their heads. Stereotypically speaking, though, my opinion would be that the biggest animals tend to be the biggest draws. Maybe kids just like to be humbled, or maybe it's hard for them to comprehend how big an animal actually is until they see it? Hard to tell, I guess, but the elephant line always seems to be the longest... ;)

Are camels particularly friendly animals, or do they have a temper? What would they do if they felt scared or threatened?

Asked by CNHolmberg about 9 years ago

Hi Charlie! You are in luck, because the "animal love of my life" happens to be a huge Bactrian camel named Knobby. (He lives at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage, and he LOVES visitors!) I didn't know too much about camels until I started working with Knobby, but I sure became an expert quickly. I learned that camels (especially male camels) can be incredibly ornery. They can also be very dangerous, and some people die from camel attacks every year. When camels feel scared or threatened, they generally spit, stamp their feet and swing their heads. They attack by trampling and even crushing, and males grow very long incisors they use for fighting. Now, I don't want to suggest camels are blood-thirsty killers or anything. They are just HUGE, and they are incredibly powerful. Males can stand more than seven feet tall at the hump, and they can weigh more than 2,000 pounds. I would probably stereotype a camel's disposition as similar to a donkey or llama--although individual camels obviously vary as widely as humans. Camels are also very smart, and they can be trained to be great companions if you are focused and dedicated. Speaking from my experience, I began working with Knobby when he was only six months old. As he grew, he began spitting and charging and generally being terrifying. It got to the point where I didn't even feel comfortable going in his enclosure with him. (One time, he even cornered and trapped me behind a gate, and it literally crossed my mind that he may kill me.) Instead of giving up on him or reverting to the old methods of negative training, I began doing positive reinforcement training with him through his bars. After many, many, many months of hard work, I was able to not only enter his enclosure with him, but to lead him through a variety of complicated commands, including sitting on command, rolling on his side, presenting his feet for inspection, wearing a halter and letting me to sit on his back. As time passed, he grew to be my very favorite animal, and I grew to be his favorite human. He ran over to me whenever he saw me, and he cried his head off whenever I left. We had an amazing relationship (and I still miss him every single day), but I never grew complacent with him, because I knew I always had to respect his strength. Even when we were in the middle of our training sessions, I always had an escape plan in the back of my mind. And whenever he got too excited, I always cut our training sessions short. Better safe than sorry. ;)

What types of animals keep themselves the cleanest?

Asked by Anna about 9 years ago

What a great question! I had to think about this a lot, actually, because every time I found myself settling on an animal, I would remember some gross thing about them that would make me laugh. ;) Most animals tend to keep themselves fairly clean, but I think the cleanest animals are the ones whose cleanliness is critical to their survival. Birds immediately come to mind, because they can't fly with gross, mangled and tangled feathers. Sea otters also come to mind, because they don't have thick layers of insulating blubber like other marine mammals. Instead, they must constantly clean and fluff their fur to keep it waterproof. This action also traps air bubbles in their underfur, and these bubbles insulate them as well.

Is your work with animals the focus of your writing career?

Asked by tomjones about 9 years ago

Thanks for the question, Tom! My first novel (the one that landed me a literary agent but didn't get picked up by any publishers) was about a girl who worked on a beluga whale research team in Alaska. It was very much inspired by my experience working with marine mammals. I have a few other zoo-related novels up my sleeves, but I've decided not to limit myself to only writing about working with animals. Instead, I focus on nature as a whole, and I've decided my literary mission statement is "to inspire readers to care about nature by crafting stories that highlight the interconnectedness of humans and the world around us." Sounds like a mouthful, I know, but I hope it will keep me focused. I also hope it will stop me from writing about every random thing that strikes my fancy. (Right now, I'm revising a near-future thriller called ESSENCE. It's about a seventeen year-old who lives under the control of San Francisco’s cult-like Centrist Movement. She stumbles upon a group of free-spirited Outsiders living in the abandoned remains of Yosemite National Park, and she must struggle to stay true to herself while realigning her values and pushing herself to become one of them.) Crossing my fingers the publishers like it!

Have you had the pleasure of caring for koala bears? Are they as docile as they appear?

Asked by Sheba18 about 9 years ago

I actually never have, although I have visited them at sanctuaries in Victoria. Probably one of the most adorable creatures in the world, aren't they? People I know who have worked with koalas have really enjoyed them. They tend to be fairly low-key, and they make excellent outreach animals if they are trained consistently. The public loves them, and they are super charismatic ambassadors for their species. I have been told not to be fooled by their cuteness, though! Although they are known for being sleepy and slow-moving, they have wicked claws and incredibly strong teeth. They can be food aggressive, and males can be quite dominant sometimes. Their keepers must never be lulled into carelessness by their cartoon-like appearance. Another weird fact about koalas is that males have a scent gland on their chest that oozes a smelly, oily substance. They mark their territory by rubbing this oil on tree trunks, and the smell is PUNGENT. Definitely another hazard of the job!

Could you ever see yourself dating someone who *didn't* like animals (or was just generally indifferent to their plight)?

Asked by The Moz about 9 years ago

Never! I don't think it's necessary to find a partner who is your exact clone, but my love of nature and the outdoors is such an intrinsic part of who I am that I can't imagine having much in common with a person who didn't share these interests.

When a trainer gets attacked by an animal, is it usually because the trainer did something wrong? Or do wild animals sometimes just revert to their untamed nature?

Asked by zazreal about 9 years ago

I would say it is almost always zookeeper error. Of course, that error extends to our inability to sometimes read the cues our animals are sending us, so I guess it's really a combination of human error and animal wildness. No matter how often we work with a particular animal, we must never forget it is wild. It operates much more instinctually than a domestic animal, so its behavior can be much more unpredictable. A sudden noise, a smell... Many, many variables can affect that animal's behavior, so we must become experts at the vocal and non-vocal cues the animal gives us. We must also never think we are "above" the safety protocols put in place for us, and we mustn't be too proud to cut short a training session if we sense a change in our animal's behavior. The trick is just to keep control and to end our session on a positive note. We can always come back and try again later.

In your time with animals, has there ever been an instance where you felt that your life was in danger?

Asked by luke about 9 years ago

Only once. And ironically, it was with a camel. (I have chuckled over this countless times, because camels don't carry the street cred bears and big cats do. If you tell someone you almost got killed by a lion, you become a superstar. If you tell someone you almost got killed by a camel, they just shake their heads and laugh at you.) That being said, this situation definitely wasn't a laughing matter at the time. This particular camel Knobby was about 1,400 pounds and more than six and a half feet tall, and he had the temperament, strength and temper of a MASSIVE unbroken stallion. I had been working with him for a few months, and we had made amazing progress together. I still knew he was dangerous, but I guess I started to be lulled by our familiarity. I began to think he viewed me as his "buddy," and I stopped paying as close attention to our safety protocols. I was working the late shift at the time. One evening, I was running really behind schedule, and I didn't make it to his enclosure until the zoo was closed and almost all the other keepers had left for the day. Even though I knew it was best practice to make sure other keepers were around in case I needed help, I decided to enter his enclosure and do some solo cleaning anyway. There was a faulty latch on one of the gates, and the fence sometimes got stuck closed. I should have left it completely open, but I didn't. Instead, I walked right in and closed the gate behind me. I started raking, but it became clear very quickly that Knobby was in a rare mood. Instead of avoiding me like he usually did, he began chasing me around the enclosure. I used my rake to try to block him, but he began huffing and kicking and trying to bite and push me. I tried to make a run for that faulty gate, but of course, it was stuck. I didn't have enough time to fiddle with it, so I ended up hiding behind a swing gate with my back pressed against the barn wall. Knobby stamped and pressed against the other side of the gate for several minutes, and it literally occurred to me that he may crush me between the gate and the wall. Thankfully, he got distracted by something after ten minutes or so, and I was able to make a run for it. When I finally escaped, I immediately collapsed to the ground outside his enclosure and burst into tears. It's difficult to describe the emotions I felt at that moment. Relief, for sure, but I also felt betrayed--like Knobby should have known better. He was supposed to LIKE me; how could he consider hurting me? This is when I realized I had begun treating Knobby like a pet. This is the most critical mistake you can ever make as a zookeeper, because this is when the majority of accidents happen. Once I came to terms with this realization, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and started my evening training session with him (outside the bars). We went on to have many years of wonderful interactions, and I eventually taught him to sit on command, roll on his side, present his feet for inspection, wear a halter and let me to sit on his back. But one thing I NEVER did again was take his size and strength for granted. He became my very favorite animal at the zoo, but I never entered his enclosure again without fully formulating an escape plan first.

Why can't cats be trained to sit, stay, or heel like dogs can?

Asked by luke about 9 years ago

Great question, Luke! Cats are often much more difficult to train than dogs, and the reason makes perfect sense from an evolutionary perspective. Cats have evolved to be mostly solitary hunters, so they are much more self-sufficient and independent than pack animals like dogs and wolves. Dogs are already hard-wired to respond to social cues from their pack mates, so this behavior is easily redirected into training sessions. (And nowadays, we just happen to be their pack mates!)

When you get an exotic new animal, how do you know it will tolerate the food you feed it? Do you have to import food from its native habitat too?

Asked by zazreal about 9 years ago

Hi Zazreal! The great things about zoos and aquariums is that they often work together to ensure their animals receive the very best nutrition possible. In addition to consulting on-site veterinarians, they work together to find out which foods are working best at other facilities. Native food is brought in whenever possible. When it is unavailable--like in the case of polar bears, who primarily eat seals--its nutritional makeup is replicated through supplements and science. Zookeepers also work with the preferences of their individual animals, and they do their best to provide "favorites" whenever possible.

Are there any animals normally found in zoos that, in your opinion, are more trouble than it's worth to keep them there?

Asked by Hammartime almost 9 years ago

Hi Hammertime, and thanks for the question. I've been giving this one a lot of thought, and my personal opinion is that large saltwater creatures (whales, sharks, whale sharks, etc.) are definitely the hardest to maintain in human care. Saltwater environments are incredibly hard to replicate, so the saltwater must be tested nearly constantly to ensure the right pH levels and such. Additionally, large animals need even larger enclosures--plus lots of enrichment and diversity--so their care becomes costly very quickly. That being said, I still think my answer to your question is no. I believe these animals are still worth the trouble. If they can be housed safely and comfortably, I think their presence is jaw-dropping enough to inspire visitors to care about the ocean in ways others animals probably can't. Think about the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. They periodically house Great Whites before releasing them back into the wild, and visitors come from all across the country to see these sharks up close. Once visitors have been given the opportunity to get to know these animals, their respect and empathy toward them grows exponentially. And like that great quote from B. Dioum says, “In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

Would a lion or tiger born and raised in a zoo ever survive and live a full-term life if just released into the wild?

Asked by bunny about 9 years ago

Hi Bunny! Unfortunately, the answer is most often no. There is always a chance--because the will to live is a powerful one--but survival is difficult enough for an animal that was born and raised in the wild. Consider a civilized human--even a really fit marathon-type of human--and imagine what would happen if you dropped him in the middle of a rainforest. His strength and will and determination would be there, but he would struggle with basic things like knowing what is safe to eat and how to find water and shelter. Now consider a lion that has been hand-raised in a zoo. Not only does he lack basic hunting skills, but he also isn't used to predators or the incredibly complicated way other lions maintain their social order. Most dangerously for him, he also believes humans are his friends. (He even believes that's where his food comes from!) So, there's always a chance. But more often than not, the ending to the story is a sad one.

What are the biggest and smallest animals you have handled? Pound for pound which was the most trouble/time consuming?

Asked by MrDuck about 9 years ago

I love this question! The biggest animal I have worked with is a 1,600 pound, seven-foot tall male Bactrian camel named Knobby. The smallest is probably a 110 gram, nine-inch tall male boreal owl named Mouse. Pound for pound, the camel definitely wins. However, I have worked with many high-maintenance little guys, including a snowy owl named Freya, a raccoon named Max and a muskrat named Critter. Although they were all fairly small, they still required a LOT of my mental energy!

Have you participated in any animal births. What is the experience like? Have there ever been complications?

Asked by TDubs over 8 years ago

Hi TDubs, the majority of my birth expertise has been with birds. Because birds are so particular, my only role has been to provide adequate nesting material, increase diets, and decrease stress by leaving the expectant parents alone. I also helped prepare birthing dens for a wolverine once--but her pregnancy turned out to be a false positive. My other claim to fame is that I once got to hold a newborn snow leopard; an experience I will never forget!

Do you prefer to work with one kind of animal and really learn and understand everything about it, or do you prefer to work with a wide variety and know a little bit about each? Put simply, do you prefer depth or breadth?

Asked by Himba about 9 years ago

This is an easy one. Depth! While I enjoy variation and getting to know lots of animals, I could be completely content working with just one animal every single day. There are ALWAYS things to do: cleaning, feeding, husbandry, training sessions, enrichment... The less animals you have, the more time you have for those fun things like making amazing enrichment and just spending quality time with them. Obviously, this prospect isn't financially realistic for most zoos and aquariums, so management does its best to strike up a healthy balance between depth and breadth. And we must do the best we can with the animals and time we are given!

Is it true that zoos show their animals videos of other animals mating to encourage them? Other than putting a male and female in the same pen, are there ways to encourage them to get it on?

Asked by julia about 9 years ago

Hahaha, I have actually never heard of a zoo doing this! (Although, who knows? Could be true!) Generally speaking, mating isn't a behavior we really need to push, because animals are already hard-wired for it. We just need to provide and maintain a low-stress environment for them, and nature generally takes care of the rest. We also need to be aware of each animal's reproductive needs. For instance, many females only go into heat once a year, so we introduce males for just a very short time. If we miss our window, we have to wait an entire year to try again. Many birds will not lay eggs unless they are provided with appropriate nesting materials. And some animals are quite reclusive during breeding, so we sometimes have to close certain exhibits so the presence of viewers doesn't stress these animals out. (Insert off-color joke here. ;)) Science also makes it possible for us to now use artificial insemination for some animals that are more difficult to breed. Consider a female beluga whale living in an enclosure with only her offspring. Twenty years ago, she either wouldn't have been able to breed, or a mate would have been flown in from another facility. The trip would have been stressful and expensive, and there are no guarantees breeding would have even been successful. Nowadays, samples can be collected from the male and shipped straight to the female. A safer and more reliable method for sure!

When zoo animals get really old and sick, are they usually put down or allowed to pass away "naturally"?

Asked by Barry212 about 9 years ago

It really depends on the situation. The animal's best interests always must come first, so staff veterinarians closely monitor aging and / or ailing animals. If it is possible to allow the animal to live out its life, that is obviously the ideal choice. Sometimes though, euthanasia becomes the only humane choice--much like with aging or ailing cats and dogs. Saying goodbye to an animal is heartbreaking, and I can't tell you how many tears I have cried through the years. But an animal's welfare comes before anything else, so sometimes a hard decision must be made.

I'm walking through the woods and suddenly there's a bear standing 10 feet in front of me. WHAT DO I DO? (Sorry, I've heard 50 different answers to this, wanna settle it once and for all...)

Asked by The Great Outdoors almost 9 years ago

Thanks for the great question, Great Outdoors... There are so many misconceptions about this that I'm happy to share my knowledge! Many people split bear attacks into two categories: black bear attacks or brown bear attacks. I think, however, that it's infinitely more helpful to split bear attacks into two different categories: DEFENSIVE attacks or PREDATORY attacks. DEFENSIVE attacks are the ones we are FAR more likely to encounter in the wild: we've stumbled upon a bear, startled it, blocked its access or threatened its food, gotten between a sow and her cubs, etc. These attacks are typically not as life-threatening as predatory attacks, because the bears will generally stop attacking us as soon as they feel like we are no longer a threat. (Slightly heartening, I suppose...) Defensive attacks by brown bears are far more common than defensive attacks by black bears, because black bears evolved in habitats with lots of trees. When black bears feel threatened, they typically just scoot up the closest one. Brown bears, on the other hand, evolved in more open areas, so they are more hard-wired to stand their ground. If you ever encounter a startled bear, remain calm and do not run. Here are some tips from BearInfo.org: 1. Speak in a low monotone voice so the bear can identify you as human. 2. A bear may charge in an attempt to intimidate you – usually stopping well short of contact. 3. If contact is made, or about to be made, drop to the ground and play dead. Protect your back by keeping your pack on. 4. Lie on your stomach, clasp your hands behind your neck, and use your elbows and toes to avoid being rolled over. If the bear does roll you over, keep rolling until you land back on your stomach. 5. Remain still and quiet. A defensive bear will stop attacking once it feels the threat has been removed. 6. Do not move until you are absolutely sure the bear has left the area. PREDATORY attacks are incredibly rare, but they are exactly what they sound like: attacks where a bear is purposefully seeking us out and intending to kill and eat us. This is the stuff nightmares are made of, so it's obviously important to react differently. Here are some more tips from BearInfo.org: 1. Any bear that continues to approach, follow, disappear and reappear or displays other stalking behaviors is possibly considering you as prey. Bears that attack you in your tent or confront you aggressively in your campsite or cooking area should also be considered a predatory threat. 2. If the bear does not respond to aggressive actions such as yelling or throwing rocks and sticks, you should be prepared to physically fight back if it attempts to make contact. 3. Try to be intimidating: look as large as possible. If you are in a group, stand close together to give the illusion of size. 4. If you have bear spray, emit a deterring blast, preferably before the bear is within twenty-five feet. This gives the animal time to divert its advance. 5. If the attack escalates and the bear physically contacts you, fight back with anything that is available to you. You are quite literally fighting for your life. (Ironically, black bears are responsible for the majority of predatory attacks, not brown bears. This is why popular wisdom suggests only fighting back during black bear attacks and playing dead during brown bear attacks. Who knew?)

How much space does a polar bear need

Asked by gd over 8 years ago

Hi GD! Since polar bears are so intelligent and large, their space requirements are kind of mind-boggling. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums sets the standards for polar bear enclosures in accredited facilities, and they have an entire handbook on polar bears. (Here's the link: http://goo.gl/gLFh9S)

In terms of physical space, "the Manitoba Standards state that 1-2 bears must be given access to 5400ft2 of dry land, with an additional 1650ft2 of land for each additional polar bear. The Polar Bear Protection Act requires a pool with area of 760ft2, and with a deep end that is 9' or more deep be incorporated within the polar bear habitat."

In addition, "the landscape should be naturalistic (e.g., planted with grass, bushes, and trees for shade) and functional, including as key elements: a pool, foliage, habitat furniture (e.g., boulders, trees, logs, etc.), open/panoramic views, and substrate pits with various materials... Climbing structures and platforms can be used to provide polar bears with accessible vantage points that enable them to observe distant vistas beyond their habitat, and this can serve to increase the sensory complexity of the habitat itself."

How do you approach, handle and restrain an animal that has escaped from a zoo?

Asked by Chelsea over 8 years ago

Great question! It absolutely depends on the individual animal, and the answers can vary significantly. A domestic animal like a goat or sheep may simply be corralled back where it belongs, and a net may be adequate for a small animal like a raccoon or a crow, but a tiger will obviously require much more significant force.

In all cases, zoos start early by categorizing each animal by "threat level" and designing emergency plans to deal with a possible escape. Zookeepers memorize these plans, and animals are also trained to view their crates as "safe places." (This works wonders when a nervous animal suddenly finds itself out of the safety and comfort of its enclosure.) 

When an animal escapes, zookeepers generally start by corralling it and attempting to entice it back into its enclosure using positive reinforcement and the procurement of its crate. If this doesn't work, nets or lassos may be used. If these don't work, tranquilizer guns are often used.

Last but not least, zoos may use deadly force, but this is obviously the VERY last option, and it is only employed if the animal becomes an imminent threat to someone's life.

What are the major health issues associated with animals in captivity. Do zoos and sanctuaries have any health management plans in place for specific species?

Asked by CAT about 8 years ago

Hi again, CAT. Because zoo environments are so different from wild environments--plentiful access to food, absence of predators, little to no competition for mates, etc.--zookeepers members must work very hard to ensure the ongoing physical and mental health of their animals. In particular, zookeepers want to maintain fitness and decrease the likelihood of unwanted behaviors like pacing, rocking, increased aggression, altered time management, increased frustration and increased fearful behavior.

Environmental enrichment plans are a very important component of animal health management plans, and these plans definitely vary from species to species--depending on things like natural history, physiology, etc.

Have you ever considered becoming a TV personality, perhaps like those who bring interesting animals on to talk shows? You seem like you'd be a natural!

Asked by Marques almost 9 years ago

Thanks so much, Marques! Public appearances were actually a big part of my job in Alaska. I trained the pint-sized outreach animals--red foxes, great horned owls, porcupines, red-tailed hawks, baby deer, etc.--and I took them to schools and visitor centers and special events. I would love to get back into those types of outreaches some day. If you know anyone who would like to hire me as a TV personality, you just let me know! ;)

Is there any overlap between zookeepers and marine biologists? Or do people usually fall into one camp or the other? Have you ever "crossed the streams", so to speak?

Asked by DvDee about 9 years ago

Hi DvDee! There is definitely some overlap between these careers, and many zookeepers and marine mammal trainers actually have degrees in marine biology. (Other popular degrees are zoology, biology, environmental science, psychology and wildlife management. Pretty much any science-related degree is a great start!) Another exciting thing about these careers is the fact that marine biologists and zookeepers often work together for certain projects. For instance, I once worked at a marine mammal facility that had a partnership with a dolphin researcher from a nearby university. He often came out and did research on the behaviors and social interactions between our rough-toothed dolphins, and we got to help facilitate his findings. Always a high point of our week, as there's nothing like being on the cutting edge of dolphin research!

lol did you see this http://tinyurl.com/ce6ejjf
Could that eagle actually have carried the kid away? How much can eagles lift and fly with?

Asked by coryschneider almost 9 years ago

Oh my gosh, how funny, because I was just looking at this video earlier today! It's really well done, isn't it? I was thinking this video was a hoax for a few reasons, and some subsequent research confirmed this for me. It was apparently made by some 3-D animation students at a school in Montreal, and they have come forward to say they animated both the eagle and the kid into the shot. (AMAZING work, though, right? Well done, guys!) However, let's assume for a minute that we don't already know this video is fake... The eagle was supposed to be a golden eagle (it's not, BTW), and golden eagles are known for being huge. They can have wingspans of 6 to 7.5 feet, and they usually weigh between 8 and 11.5 pounds. However, when you figure that a newborn human baby usually weighs that much, that means the toddler in the video probably weighs... What? 25-30 pounds? It's not IMPOSSIBLE to assume that a golden eagle might swoop down to check out a child anyway, but I would say it's VERY unlikely. Golden eagles typically prey on small rodents and rabbits, and their usual weight limit is half their body weight--so 4-6 pounds on average. Therefore, this eagle would know from a distance that this toddler is far too heavy to carry for more than an instant. (It would also be probably very put off by all the elaborate clothing and such.) Finally, golden eagles generally stay away from humans, so I can't imagine one swooping down with so many people standing around this park. But, holy cow, I have to admit that my heart stopped for a minute when I first saw this!

Do any animals other than humans have sex for non-reproductive reasons? (Like: just for fun:)?

Asked by babyfac3 over 8 years ago

Hahaha, absolutely! Many, many species of animals enjoy a gratuitous romp in the hay. As a matter of fact, bonobos (chimp-like primates) revolve almost their entire social structure around sex. They use intercourse (in various, creative forms) to greet each other, to solve disputes, and to make up after fights. They even use sex as currency when bartering for food! In my personal experience, I have worked at facilities that house dolphins, and... man! The things I have seen, particularly with males (and females, and other males, and cones, and toys, and pretty much any other inanimate thing)... Let's just say the Spice Network could take some tips from those guys... ;)

I'm curios about the financing. How are zoos funded? Donations, taxes, a founder? The reason I'm asking is the times are rough all over, how is it affecting the care of the animals, or do visitors take care of all that with the entrance fees?

Asked by Yolanda Renee over 8 years ago

Hi Yolanda, and thanks for stopping by! Zoo funding actually varies considerably from zoo to zoo. Some facilities are private, non-profits, which means they receive all their funding from grants, sponsorships, memberships, admissions, etc. Some are funded partially or fully by local or state governments, and others are run by zoological societies. In tough financial times, zoos certainly feel the crunch. This is especially tough in areas with high seasonal variability, as many zoos make 80% or more of their yearly profit during in the summer months. A particularly bad summer may mean the organization needs to dip slightly into the red to make it through the quiet, cold, winter months. (Take-away lesson: PLEASE support your local zoos and aquariums! ;) )

do you train snakes or reptiles?

Asked by nate over 8 years ago

Thanks for stopping by, Nate. The reptiles I have worked with (ball pythons, rosy boas, western hognose snakes, African spurred tortoises, red-eared sliders, bearded dragons, blue-tongued skinks, etc.) have mostly been outreach animals, and their training has mostly just been desensitization to human touch. However, I have seen other trainers perform impressive alligator and crocodile training, so I know some reptiles are capable of more advanced training. I have just never been part of it. (Alligators and crocodiles also happen to be my biggest fear, so it's probably for the best! ;))

Of all the animals you've ever worked with, which one did you bond with most?

Asked by Calico Mom over 8 years ago

A Bactrian camel. Hands-down--and I am kind of embarassed to tell you that, because I feel like I should tell you something with more street cred, like a tiger or a polar bear.

But it's funny... I think we tend to be attracted to animals that we identify with in some way. And maybe I just identify with creatures that are a little awkward and misunderstood, because my top five favorite animals of all time are: a Bactrian camel that slipped when he ran too fast, a rough-toothed dolphin with scoliosis of the spine, a moose that loved to give kisses, a red fox that wagged his tail every time he saw me, and a raccoon that liked to sit on my head.

Also, I would LOOOOVE to work with sloths some day. Or anteaters. Or prehensile-tailed porcupines.

Pretty much the Island of Misfit Toys, over here. ;)

How do zoos dispose of dead animals?

Asked by Garcia over 8 years ago

Great question, Garcia. An unfortunate side effect of working in zoos is the fact that every animal has a finite lifespan--which makes death a sad reality of the job.

Almost every zoo follows the same procedure when an animal passes away: we do a necropsy (animal autopsy) to determine the cause of death, and then we contact researchers to see if they are interested in any of the parts. We sometimes collect tissue for research, and we sometimes harvest other important pieces (tusks, horns, skulls, etc.) for educational use. Once this is complete, we almost always send the remains off to be cremated.

Always a very sad day for everyone.

Hi I was wondering and i'm sorry if you have answered this question before but when you just become a zookeeper do you automatically have the privilege to make contact with animals or do you have to wait to be given the privilege?

Asked by `IaintLion over 8 years ago

Thanks for the question, Lion! This definitely depends on the animal's species--as well as its temperment and your individual expertise. In order to be hired as a zookeeper, you generally must first demonstrate sound animal handling skills. Even still, you must often work for quite a while to build up an animal's trust.

For example, I once worked at a zoo that had a six-member wolf pack. New keepers started interacting with the omega wolves under the supervision of senior trainers. After that, the keepers individually worked with the omegas until they established their trust. Then they began working with the betas, and then they moved up to the alphas. This often took weeks, and it sometimes took months. (Sometimes, it wouldn't even work out, because the wolves wouldn't respond to the keeper for whatever reason.)

Obviously, this approach wouldn't be necessary for an animal like a turtle or a domestic goat. That's why there is so much variation in this answer.

Hope this helps!

can you tell me a little more about a bearded dragon i have alwasy thought them cool

Asked by nate over 8 years ago

I have worked with two bearded dragons, and they were both so docile and easy-going that I would highly recommend them as pets. They love heat, and they are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they will eat almost anything you give them: leafy greens, crickets, mealworms, apples, bananas, figs, etc. They are generally easy to handle, and they are known for being great "starter" reptiles, so even kids are usually capable of caring for them. (Just don't give them to a child who will get bored easily, because they can easily live for 7-10 years.)

What is the required timescale for dealing with an escape of an animal? Including an estimate of timings in dealing with the situation and contacting those concerned.

Asked by Chelsea over 8 years ago

This is a very difficult question to answer, as the rule of thumb is simply to get the situation under control as quickly as possible while also ensuring the safety of everyone involved. I have been part of escapes that have taken only moments to contain, and I have also had to spend an hour or more corraling an animal down from a tree, out from under a barn, etc.

Who to contact or report a problem to of an escape of an animal at a zoo? ( etc. immediate manager, health and safety officer, first aider, police.)

Asked by Chelsea over 8 years ago

Hi Chelsea! Generally, the chain of command is that the zookeeper will report the escape to his/her immediate supervisor, and that supervisor will report it to the Curator of Animals. The Curator will inform the Executive Director, and the Curator is also the one who will typically report the escape to outside authorities / emergency responders. In the event the Curator is unavailable, the immediate supervisor will usually be the one who takes on emergency response responsibilities.

Zoos already have emergency plans in place for each possible animal escape, so the zookeepers will typically jump to action as soon as they have reported the escape to their supervisors. This way, the situation can be addressed quickly while still ensuring the proper authorities receive the alert.

Hi! I am going to be a senior this coming fall and I really want to pursue a career with wildlife. I wanted to know what kind of degree is needed for zookeeping and how much one on one time you get with the animals. I want to get my bachelors

Asked by Hannah about 8 years ago

Hi Hannah, and thanks so much for your question. You can become a zookeeper with any number of degrees, so I would definitely recommend settling on the one you personally find the most interesting: biology, zoology, chemistry, environmental science, psychology, marine biology, natural resources, etc.

I would also recommend checking out the American Association of Zookeepers' "Zookeeping as a Career" page for tons of links and helpful hints: http://aazk.org/zoo-keeping-as-a-career/


The amount of one-on-one time you get really depends on the species of animal and your experience level. Once you are fully trained, you can count on spending quite a bit of time interacting with your animals--either one-on-on or through some kind of protective barrier.

Best of luck to you!

Love love love your blog! My question for you: how much does your experience with animals color your young-adult writing? Do you write specifically about animals? Do you use them metaphorically? Some combination?

Asked by Mira over 8 years ago

Hi Mira, and thank you so much for visiting my blog! My experience with animals definitely colors my young adult writing, and I very much enjoy emphasizing the bonds between animals and humans. I also enjoy giving readers a sneak peek into life "behind-the-scenes" at animal care and research centers, because there is so much training and bonding and husbandry going on that no one really even knows about. (I also enjoy using animals metaphorically. I'm working on a project right now that utilizes animal colors in a very visceral yet understated way, and I'm excited to see if any of my readers actually catch on to it.) That being said, I don't limit myself to just writing about animals, because I don't want to pigeonhole myself as an author. Instead my focus is nature, and I strive to inspire readers to care about the natural world by crafting stories that highlight the interconnectedness of humans and the world around us. Right now, I'm working on a YA Adventure called ESSENCE. It takes place in Yosemite National Park, and it was inspired by the summer I spent living in a tent and working for the park's concessionaire. (You can check out the full pitch here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/lisa-ann-okane/essence-pitch/336341396445109 ) Thanks again for stopping by my blog!

Is it embarrassing when you're giving a zoo tour and the animals start humping? Do parents freak out if they're with their kids?

Asked by Ben over 8 years ago

Oh, totally! This happens all the time, and it never gets less embarassing. I volunteered as a tour guide at my local zoo in high school, and I always stammered through an awkward explanation, like the tigers were "wrestling" or "playing" or whatever. Nowadays, I tend to be a little more honest, though I usually try to minimize and move on as quickly as possible. (Ironically, the parents usually laugh harder than the kids, but we DO share inside jokes on occasion!)

Are there laws about what animals zoos can exhibit? Do you get special privileges for endangered animals?

Asked by julia over 8 years ago

Hi Julia, and thanks for the great question. Zoos are regulated by so many federal and state laws that I find it incredibly difficult to keep track of all of them. (Thank goodness I have never worked in a position where I was required to!) Several federal statutes are applicable to zoos: the Animal Welfare Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act, and many other species-specific statutes--like the African Elephant Conservation Act, the Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Act, etc. In addition, every state has its own set of governing laws, and these sometimes vary quite a bit. The USDA is the primary enforcer of the Animal Welfare Act, and its representatives schedule planned and surprise code enforcement visits throughout the year to ensure each zoo lives up to its standards. It is certainly quite a process!

How is this guy (the "Lion King") able to interact so freely with so many lions and not put himself in danger? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kjWBgA81LM

Asked by waltzing matty over 8 years ago

Hi Matty. This guy is amazing, isn't he? He's an anomaly: an animal trainer with just the right combination of everything he needs to be able to succeed in this particular environment. His consistency, his skill, his technical precision, his presence, his history with these lions, and the characteristics and upbringings of all the lions in this specific pride have all combined to create this one-in-a-million situation. What you see in this clip is the result of countless hours of hard work, phenomenal luck and unwavering dedication. Is this guy crazy? Perhaps. He even says himself in this clip that there's a chance he may be killed by one of these lions someday. So he certainly understands the inherent risks and still chooses to dedicate his life to this. It could also be argued that this guy is brilliant, or reckless, or suicidal, or mind-bogglingly gifted. Or maybe he's just the luckiest bastard in the entire world. Regardless, it's certainly appropriate to be awed by him. It is also critically important to view his interactions for what they are: an amazing and incredible and probably unrepeatable feat. Even he probably couldn't replicate this with another lion pride, so the rest of us should certainly NEVER try this at home.

Hi,
Could you please tell me how a zookeeper might monitor the feeding habits of a chimpanzee?

Asked by jade over 8 years ago

Hi Jade! A zookeeper can monitor his/her animals' eating habits in many ways. One is to carefully portion and weigh the diet before it is given to the animal and then compare this to the weight of the leftover food the zookeeper collects the next day. Another is to station someone (usually a volunteer or intern) outside the enclosure and takes notes while observing the animal's feeding behavior. A third (expensive) option is to install a video monitoring system and review the footage. Hope that helps!

Hi your question really helped me so thank you :D and i'm deciding to be a zookeeper when i get older because to me it's a very unique job i'm 16 atm and i was wondering what do volunteers do at the zoo and is it too late for me to try and volunteer?

Asked by `IaintLion over 8 years ago

I'm glad my answer was helpful, and sixteen is actually the perfect age to begin getting hands-on animal experience. I would highly recommend volunteering at your local zoo if you have one; teen volunteers often help with camps, man the petting zoo, take tickets, answer guest questions, etc. It may not be the most glamorous job ever, but you will gain invaluable experience, and you will begin to understand how the behind-the-scenes portions of the zoo operate. 

(If there are no zoos in your area, you can also gain relevent experience at animal shelters, horse stables, vet offices, etc.)

If you like what you see and decide you would like to pursue zookeeping as a career, I would highly recommend enrolling in college and majoring in a life science of some sort: biology, psychology, environmental science, etc. Once you are enrolled in school, you can begin applying for summer zoo internships. Most are unpaid, and they are a huge time commitment, but they are the best way to pave your way into full-time employment once you graduate.

Best of luck to you, and please let me know if you have any more questions!

How do you know what an animal's tolerance for climates are if they're not native to the area? For example, could a giraffe survive in an outdoor zoo in Vancouver? Could they bring a polar bear or penguins to a zoo in Hawaii? Thanks!!

Asked by Melody over 8 years ago

Great question, Melody. The Association of Zoos & Aquariums establishes many guidelines for the care of animals in accredited facilities, and these guidelines include ideal temperature conditions. This information helps regulate which animals should be housed in which geographical areas and climates.

The guidelines vary quite a bit in depth from species to species, of course, but here is an example of the depth of information given to polar bear care: "Though polar bears originate from an arctic environment, most are tolerant of fluctuating temperatures, as summers in Churchill, Manitoba can average 64°F (17.8°C), but can reach more than 79°F (26°C) degrees.

"... The orientation of and features within the exhibit can affect the range of temperatures the bears will experience. Hills, trees, shrubs, branches, rocks, and stumps are good pieces of habitat furniture that can be used to provide shade throughout the day. Institutions in warmer climates should consider how to provide cooler areas for their bears using approaches such as free-access to air-conditioned spaces, chilled water, or ice piles. Artificial shade structures that can also incorporate sprinklers and misters, and wind generating fans, are approaches that have also been used. It is important that several cooling areas be made available if multiple bears are on exhibit together. If these features are not available, access to temperature regulated indoor holding areas is recommended."

As you can see, the information presented is very specific. This ensures the polar bears receive the best care and housing possible.

If an animal escaped, who do you contact or report the problem to?(Etc. Immediate manager, health and safety officer, police)

Asked by Chelsea over 8 years ago

Hi Chelsea! I assume this question is piggy-backing on your last question about animal escapes. Since I have already answered what an employee would do in this situation, I will expand and say that if a zoo guest ever sees an escape, he/she should tell whichever employee is the closest to him/her--whether that employee is a gardener, a custodian, a camp counselor, etc. All employees are trained to deal with emergency situations, so those people will know exactly how to make sure the proper authorities receive the alert.

What are some career options after working in a zoo? I love animals and want to go to university for zoology, but not if it means that I'll have limited other career paths if I don't like it.

Asked by madisonedwards over 8 years ago

Hi Madison, and thanks for the question! The great thing about zoology is that there are many other career paths you can pursue if you decide working in a zoo isn't for you. You could become a wildlife biologist, a forester, an ecologist, a geneticist, an animal lab technician, a fishery or marine biologist, a veterinarian, a public health specialist... The list goes on and on and on. Most universities have Career Services departments, and these help educate students about all the options available within their chosen majors. Many universities even publish this information online, so it may be helpful for you to do an internet search and see what pops up. I think you will be surprised to learn all the opportunities available to zoology majors. Best of luck to you!

Hi!How do keepers get assigned a species? Do they have to be experts in that animal? Can you work with more than one species? I want to wok with sea mammals and apes and lions. I really don't want to be stuck with animals I'm not interested in

Asked by Daniel about 8 years ago

Hi Daniel! Specific species assignments vary widely from zoo to zoo, but entry-level keepers generally start by working shifts like the petting zoo, the free-flight aviary, and the easier-to-handle reptiles and amphibians.

More "glamorous" shifts like marine mammals, primates and big cats are generally much more competitive and harder to acquire. You will almost definitely need to "put in your time" and prove yourself as an entry-level keeper before you will be eligible for a promotion to these other species.

Best of luck to you!

This isn't really a question, I just wanted to say thank you! You've been a massive help!

Asked by Chelsea over 8 years ago

You are so welcome, Chelsea. Thanks so much for stopping by, and please let me know if you have any other questions!

Hello! What are the duties of a zookeeper? Besides clean the exhibits and feed the animals. Can you be both a keeper and a trainer? Do the animals tend to bond with their keepers too?

Asked by Callie about 8 years ago

Hi Callie! Zookeepers have many duties besides cleaning and feeding--although these duties definitely take up a lot of their time!

Almost all keepers are trainers as well, and they often participate in formal training sessions, animal observations, environmental enrichment (research, design and implementation), guest interactions, formal and informal presentations, and medical procedures. Many also participate in research, and they prepare presentations for conferences and networking events with their colleagues. 

As for your second question, yes, many animals do tend to bond with their keepers. This has always been my favorite part of the job: the moment when you realize some of your animals seem to have preferences and look forward to seeing you as much as you look forward to seeing them. An absolutely unbelievable experience that makes all that hard work worthwhile!

Where did you attend college to become a zookeeper? And do you have to be good at math to be a zookeeper?

Asked by Ellen about 8 years ago

Hi Ellen, my experience is a little different than most, as I didn't originally go to school to become a zookeeper. My initial degree was more on the business side of things: a Bachelors of Science in Hospitality Management with an Emphasis in Theme Park and Attraction Management from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

It was only after graduation that I went back and picked up a lot of the science knowledge I lacked. I also began volunteering at wildlife rescue organizations, and that's how I was able to initially get my foot in the door.

My way was obviously more roundabout than most, so I would recommend taking the straight route if you already know you want to be a zookeeper. Attend an accredited, four-year university and major in any number of science-related fields: biology, zoology, chemistry, environmental science, psychology, marine biology, natural resources, etc.

As far as math is concerned, you will obviously be required to complete math prerequisites in order to get a degree in science. However, you probably don't have to worry about pursuing any additional math beyond those basics!

When an animal escapes, what would you say to the owner of the animal if appropriate?

Asked by Chelsea over 8 years ago

I'm not certain I know how to accurately answer this question, as each animal is typically owned by the zoo from which it escapes--with a few exceptions for breeding loans, etc. Also, each animal is generally apprehended before too much time passes, so it is almost never necessary to report an escape to an outside owner. 

If, for some reason, a breeder loan animal (or other outside animal) either went missing or was forced to be put down during an escape, there would typically be a clause in that animal's loan contract that would detail how the receiving zoo would respond to this--whether it is a no-fault situation, a situation where a replacement animal would need to be acquired, etc.

(Again, this happens to infrequently that it's almost never necessary to actually deal with it. Even still, I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry.)

I practically grew up on the farm, but my real dream is to become a Zookeeper. I live in the Orlando area, do you know if the Zoos/Aquariums in the area allow volunteers? If so, how can I get involved?

Asked by Laura almost 8 years ago

Hi Laura! Most for-profit organizations are not allowed to have volunteers, so your best bet would be to look for a non-profit zoo/aquarium in the Orlando area. Off the top of my head, I know the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Sanford accepts volunteers. I would recommend visiiting their website to see what their specific requirements are. Best of luck to you!

Hi! I want to be a zookeeper, but I also am interested in wildlife rehab. I would love to release rehabbed animals back into the wild after caring for them, so can that go hand in hand with zookeeping?

Asked by Carly about 8 years ago

Hi Carly! These two endeavors definitely go hand in hand, as many zoos and aquariums participate in rehabilitation programs in addition to husbandry programs. I know I have personally been fortunate enough to assist in the rescues, rehabs and releases of many animals, including: California sea lions, harbor seals, northern fur seals, elephant seals, green sea turtles, Kemp's ridley sea turtles, raccoons, squirrels, songbirds, raptors, and moose.

Volunteering at rehab centers is also a great way to gain hands-on animal experience--which will help pave your way into a paying zookeeper job. This is how I got my start!

I need to ask an elephant trainer a few questions for a Middle School report, can you help me or direct me in the right direction?

Asked by Rissa about 8 years ago

Hi Rissa! I have never personally worked with elephants, but a few of my good friends have. Shoot me an email at lisaannokane(at)outlook(dot)com, and I will hook you up with one for your report!

Do you ever get protesters at your zoo? Like PETA or other groups who think zoos should be banned?

Asked by Bethanne over 8 years ago

Hi Bethanne, I actually haven't ever experienced this. I'm sure it still happens, but I think the public is much more educated about the role of zoos and aquariums in the United States than they ever have been before. Gone are the days when people associate accredited zoos with crumbling, road-side circus attractions, and I think that's because the public finally understands the importance of zoos as educational, research and conservation entities.

The public is also way more aware that accredited zoos don't actually go out in the wild and harvest perfectly healthy animals; we simply serve as a home for animals that have been deemed "unreleasable." This means our animals have either been orphaned, injured or raised in human care, and it has been determined that these animals most likely won't survive in the wild without us.

What is the equipment needed in an escape of an animal? (PPE, restraining equipment, first aid, portable carriers, van etc).

Asked by Chelsea over 8 years ago

This obviously varies quite a bit from animal to animal, but our typical tools of the trade are treats, kennels, hand nets of various sizes, animal control nets, mesh nets, poles, squeeze cages, fog horns, fire extinguishers, tranquilizer darts, and even firearms for the most serious circumstances.

How can a zookeeper ensure that the enrichment program they are using is effective?

Asked by help about 8 years ago

Hi there! I have actually already answered this question, so I will copy and paste my answers here for you:

The first step in designing an enrichment program is to research the species’ natural behaviors and physiology. Once you have a handle on what the animal “likes to do,” the next step is to design a goal-oriented plan that identifies the species-specific behaviors are desired from that animal (digging, nesting, etc.).

Enrichment plans must include how the enrichment will be developed, how it will ensure the animal’s safety, and how it will be monitored to document the animal’s response to it. (Interns and/or volunteers usually do the majority of monitoring.)

Understanding that many animals often require a “breaking in period” where they size up new additions to their environment, trainers should make sure to keep detailed records to ensure the animal eventually utilizes and is stimulated by the enrichment provided. If the enrichment is not deemed to be effective, a plan should be in place for adapting, altering and/or removing it.

I would love to work as a zookeeper. Most positions I am finding however require 3+ years of experience at a zoo. How can I get that experience if even entry level jobs require it? Does working as a vet assistant at a vet hospital count towards this?

Asked by Andrew over 8 years ago

Although this sounds like the classic Catch-22, it is actually quite possible to fulfill this requirement if you begin your zoo career by working as an intern. Almost every zoo offers an internship program--most during the summer, some during other seasons--and these internships are often a critical first step in paving your way into a zoo career.

The bad news: most internships are unpaid, and they are almost always full-time, so you may have to work a night job or rely on student loans or your savings for awhile. The good news: your possibilities will expand exponentially once you have completed an internship or two. (Although zoos LOVE to see vet experience, many of them won't even consider you until you have seen what happens "behind the curtain" at their facilities.)

I HIGHLY recommend the Job Listings page provided by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (http://www.aza.org/joblistings/). You can search specifically for internships, and the page is updated almost every day. A goldmine for future zookeepers!

How do they transport zoo animals across the ocean if they're going to be sent to different zoos? Can you put an elephant, tiger, or even a smaller one like a cougar in an airplane, or is it always done by boat?

Asked by Zach almost 8 years ago

Hi Zach, and so sorry for the delay in my response. Yes, many animals can be flown from one facility to another. This is often the safest and most reliable option, as we want to get animals out of potentially stressful situations--like travel--as quickly as we possibly can. Trainers just have to work very closely with their animals to prepare them for their journey, and trainers and medical staff have to make the journey with them to monitor them and make sure they remain stable and as comfortable and relaxed as possible. 

What enrichment programs can zoos run to maintain mental well-being of their larger primates? What are the goals of the enrichment program, and how these are achieved and monitored?

Asked by CAT over 8 years ago

Great question, CAT! Primate enrichment programs—like any other animal enrichment programs—are designed to enhance a particular animal’s behavioral, physical, social, cognitive and psychological well being. Enrichment is of particular importance to very complex animals like primates, because they require a great deal of physical, mental and social stimulation.

The first step in designing an enrichment program for a primate is to research that species’ natural behaviors and physiology. Once you have a handle on what the animal “likes to do,” the next step is to design a goal-oriented plan that identifies the species-specific behaviors are desired from that animal (digging, nesting, etc.).

In the case of large primates, structural enrichment and object enrichment are used quite often in enrichment plans. Artificial trees, platforms, hammocks, hoses and rope provide opportunities for decision making—and so do novel items like crates, balls, food items, barrels, burlap sacks, boxes, etc.

It is important to provide enrichment items at variable intervals to prevent animal boredom. It is also important to provide social enrichment in the form of companionship with other animals, training sessions and bonding time with trainers.

Enrichment plans must include how the enrichment will be developed, how it will ensure the animal’s safety, and how it will be monitored to document the animal’s response to it. (Interns and/or volunteers usually do the majority of monitoring.)

Understanding that many animals often require a “breaking in period” where they size up new additions to their environment, trainers should make sure to keep detailed records to ensure the animal eventually utilizes and is stimulated by the enrichment provided.

Hope this helps!

So i can't NOT ask you > what were your reactions to the zoo killing and dismembering the giraffe and feeding it to the lions!!? So many people are outraged, but they seemed to have a really good reason to do it: avoiding breeding. What's your take?

Asked by nonono over 7 years ago

I'm sickened. I'm honestly sickened by this entire situation.

I will preface this answer by saying this is MY opinion, not the opinion of any particular organization or groups of organizations. I will also say I know nothing about this situation except for what I have learned on Discovery News and other various news websites. It is entirely possible I have missed something important. For that reason, I plead ignorance and will try to keep my answer as concise and factual as possible.

In MY opinion, natural breeding in this zoo should never be allowed if the end result is always intended to be what happened to Marius. Other methods like sterilization or gender-grouped enclosures should be considered instead. Or, if natural breeding is allowed to occur, the offspring should be euthanized humanely shortly after birth. There is no reason (I know of) that this giraffe should have been allowed to live eighteen months if the zoo was always planning on putting it down like this.

Secondly, I don't know much about the laws that would have prevented this zoo from selling Marius, but it seems to me this giraffe had many options besides being put down. And to be shot in the head and chopped up in front of GUESTS... This is the part that breaks my heart the most. There is absolutely NO REASON an act this significant should be treated with this much callousness and disregard for the value of life. To me, this feels like a slap in the face to everyone who loved and supported this animal. I know I will never personally support this zoo.

Again, let me just say one more time this is 100% my opinion, and it is only based on the news I have been given. It is entirely possible I have gotten something wrong, but I still doubt I will ever be able to forgive this public act of violence and disrespect.

I have always been interested in animal care and just recently feel like I should be a zookeeper. What aew the hours/ workload like? Also I am moving to St. Pete Beach in 6 months. How can I begin my career there?

Asked by lynnski over 8 years ago

Hi Lynnski, and thanks so much for your question. Zookeeping is a very rewarding and unique career, but be forewarned that it also involves very long hours and relatively low pay. The good news is that the vast majority of people who become zookeepers do so for the right reason--because they love it and can't see themselves doing anything else. However, the compensation and long hours do require a lifestyle sacrifice, so make sure you weigh this cost when deciding if this career is right for you.

Your animals don't care if it's day or night, raining or snowing, a weekend or a holiday. They still need to eat, and they still need medical attention. Sometimes this means you have to miss holiday dinners, stay overnight, stand in freezing pools for hours, or run right into a disaster like an earthquake or a hurricane while everyone else is running out.

The upside: you get to build a bond with an animal most people only dream of ever seeing in real life. And some of your animals begin looking forward to seeing you almost as much as you look forward to seeing them. That kind of compensation can't really be quantified. ;)

As far as your question about starting your career, I would recommend looking at this article from the American Association of Zookeepers: "So, You Want to Be a Zoo Keeper, Trainer, or an Aquarist?" (http://aazk.org/wp-content/uploads/keeper_information.pdf).

If zookeeping still feels like a good fit for you, I would encourage you to check out the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Job Listing page: http://www.aza.org/joblistings/

Best of luck!

Hi there; are you able to define enrichment tools used to enhance the well-being of animals in zoos? And, what are some tools used to manage undesirable behaviour in zoos? How can the zoo keeper access the effectiveness of these tools?

Asked by CAT about 8 years ago

Hi again, CAT! The sky is practically the limit with enrichment--as long as the items used are found to be safe. Depending on the species, you can use balls, boxes, buckets, containers, empty kegs, ropes, nets, bells, newspaper, treats... The list goes on and on. If you are looking for ideas, Disney's Animal Programs has a great website with species-specific suggestions: http://www.animalenrichment.org

Undesirable behavior is typically addressed through training--though this varies greatly, depending on the specific behavior. Effectiveness measures also vary greatly depending on the species and the specific goals of each enrichment plan. Is there a specific species and enrichment item you are wondering about?

Hope this is helpful!

What happens when an animal doesn't adapt well to a zoo setting?

Thank you for answering our questions! You have helped us a lot!

Asked by Burnett Bulldogs over 7 years ago

Hi again, Bulldogs! It often takes an animal a little while to adjust to its new environment, so zookeepers are very patient. They also take great care to make the environment as "interesting" as possible so the animal has many opportunities for mental and physical stimulation. 

If it seems like an animal isn't responding well to its environment, they will work hard to adapt their behavioral management plans to provide new opportunities for the animal. They may even combine certain species together (if possible) to provide companionship if the animal is the only one of its kind.

If these methods still don't work, zoos may begin to consider transferring the animal to another facility where they think it may be more successful. They won't rest until they find a solution!

What might be the special feeding requirements of the fairy penguins in a zoo environment?

Asked by jade over 8 years ago

Excellent question, Jade, and so sorry for the delay in answering!

Fairy penguins primarily eat fish, squid and krill in the wild, so this diet can be replicated fairly easy in a zoo environment. An adult penguin generally consumes between 5.5 and 8.5 ounces of food per day, and zoos often rotate through a variety of low-fat fish and high-fat fish, as well as squid and krill when available. Multi-vitamins are also often provided, as well as vitamin E and thiamin supplements.

Hand-feeding is generally recommended with these animals, as individuals tend to compete for diets, and it is very difficult to monitor consumption otherwise. Feeding time is also a great opportunity for training and enrichment!

Hi, I m wondering what you believe is the most effective way to develop a connection or relationship with the animals you keep. What is the first step and how to you evolve this over time?

Asked by Jill N over 7 years ago

Hi Jill! This is a great question. I think the first step is definitely establishing realistic expectations for each particular animal. (A domestic camel, for example, is going to initially be much more apt for enthusiastic interactions than a mountain goat.) You can research other zoo's behavioral plans to see what worked and what didn't work for them, and you can also do your homework and take a look at each animal's natural history to get a clue how it will respond to your presence. 

Once you have established a basic plan for your interactions with your new animal, your next step will be to be consistent--and patient! Successful interactions, connections, and relationships vary widely between species and individual animals, and there is no magic number for how quickly or slowly these relationships will develop.

To make things even more complicated, sometimes an animal will NEVER respond to you the way you think it should. In my experience, individual animals have demonstrated preferences for certain keepers versus others in ways that defied logic. Maybe it's your smell, maybe it's the sound of your voice... No matter what you do, some animals just aren't going to connect with you. That's why it's so important to keep an open mind--and to pay strict attention to what your animal is actually telling you, not just what you think it should be telling you.

At the end of the day, it's exciting to witness which ones you connect with versus which ones you really don't. Sometimes, they surprise you!

What are some problems that endangered animals sometimes face?

Asked by Max over 7 years ago

Hi Max. This question is almost impossible to answer, as the problems vary widely between species. Some common problems, however, are poaching, habitat loss, deforestation, pollution, climate change... I would recommend researching specific species for more informaiton. Best of luck to you. 

Do you get to pick which animal you major in? My sister wants to know because she is wanting to go into Zookeeping

Asked by mraines about 8 years ago

Hi MRaines! Your sister actually won't get to pick which animal she majors in; instead, she will receive an understanding of the biology, physiology and natural history of many types of animals. This way, she will be very well-rounded when she graduates.

This is very helpful, because she will probably have to "work her way up" to a shift with her dream animals. Most of "glamorous" animal shifts are very competitive, so zookeepers often have to put in their time before they can secure these positions!

Hi
I am Natasha Rhyan Brace, I study Animal Management Level 3. I am wondering if you could help me with an assessment, I need to explain the restraint of a Bottlenose Dolphin and I am wondering how and what tools should be used to restrain ? Thanks

Asked by Natasha R Brace about 8 years ago

Hi Natasha! Are you wondering about the methods for restraining a wild dolphin during a capture and release, or were you wondering more about a procedure with a dolphin in human care? I'm happy to help once I know a little more!

Do you ever catch yourself feeling bad for the animals because they're in captivity?

Asked by Favre about 7 years ago

Hi Favre, I definitely believe that--first and foremost--wild animals belong in the wild. However, some people don't realize this, but the animals in accredited zoos in the United States are all there because they have been deemed "unreleasable" by an objective, third-party organization like the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or the Department of Fish & Game. This means they have been evaluated for their probability of survival in the wild, and the decision has been made that they most likely won't make it on their own. 

There are many variables to this, but the determinations seem to generally fall into one (or more) of the following reasons: they suffer from a permanent injury (blindness, an amputated wing, etc.), they have become accustomed to human handouts (problem bears in national parks, etc.), or they were orphaned at an early age or born in a zoo environment and never learned how to survive in an uncontrolled environment.

Decisions like this are never made lightly, and the welfare of the animal is always the highest priority. And once the decision is made for an animal to stay in human care, a comprehensive environmental enrichment plan is developed to ensure the animal receives the best care, training and environmental stimulation possible.

It's not the wild, obviously, but it's the very best we can do. And if those animals can serve as "ambassadors for their species" to hopefully inspire visitors to care enough about their wild counterparts to practice conservation, I believe this is a very important mission, too.

I'm going to college for Animal Behavior,Ecology and Conservation. I want to be a zoo curator. How does one become one? Is it an administrative job or hands on with the animals job? I plan to get my Masters as well. Do you have any advice? Thanks!

Asked by Hannah about 7 years ago

Hi Hannah! I can't speak for all zoos, but in my experience, Curator positions were typically earned by zookeepers who received the necessary education (masters degrees are a huge plus!), put in their time "on-the-ground" and then worked their way up the chain of command to this role. The amount of hands-on time varies between zoos, but Curators typically spend most of their time on administrative and supervisory work. They also offer the "final say" on many decisions.

If you are interested in this role, I would recommend doing your research and then going for it! These positions are SUPER competitive, but if this is what you know you want to do, that will help you focus all your efforts on it while you are in school. 

Best of luck to you!

I am in this decision in my life that I know being a zoo keeper/ curator or trainer is what I want to do in my life and even though the salary is not that great did you ever regret choosing this career.

Asked by Acelest almost 7 years ago

Hi Acelest, and thanks for such a great question. I need to be honest with you: I have questioned zookeeping as a career many times, and the reason has always come down to the salary. As a matter of fact, in recent years I have been forced to shift my focus away from the animals and more onto the management side of things. This has been a 100% financial decision.

It is an incredible shame, because zookeeping really is my dream job, but at the end of the day, almost every zookeeper I know either works two jobs or is partially supported by someone else. The reason is two-fold: the career is extremely competitive, so if you aren't willing to accept such a low salary, there are hundreds of people in line just behind you who will. Also, there is an abundance of entry-level jobs, but it is very hard to work your way up into a management position, because of the bottleneck of available talent vs. very few openings.

That being said, if zookeeping is your dream, I would encourage you without hesitation to go for it. I have never once regretted my decision to become a zookeeper, and I would not be the person I am today if not for the experiences I have had in this career field.

Most starter trainer positions require applicant to have at least 6 months to 3 years of training experience. If this is the starter job, how are you supposed to get that?? Internship and volunteering only get you so far. What can you do?

Asked by Emma almost 8 years ago

Hi Emma! This is definitely the Catch-22 of animal training, but the good news is that almost all zoos will accept internship experience for this. The majority of internships are seasonal, unpaid and 40+ hours per week, so they are definitely a big time/financial commitment. However, they are often the foot in the door you need to later snag a paid position--whether at that particular zoo or elsewhere. Many places even actively recruit their interns at the end of their internships if they have openings. Definitely worth the temporary sacrifice if you can swing it!

Do you ever get to interact with bears or big cats without barriers, and other obstructions or them being on sedatives?

Asked by Kidbear3 over 6 years ago

Hi Kidbear! I have interacted with orphaned brown bear cubs without barriers or sedatives, but I have never interacted with adult bears or big cats without these safety precautions. All of my facilities have always had strict procedures in place to minimize accidents and injuries, so these types of interactions were never allowed.

hey im just wondering when you go to university to study is it a lot different on what country your in as im in south Australia so would it be different to another country's university or is it all the same studying

Asked by Taite.talent over 7 years ago

Hi Taite! This definitely varies quite a lot from university to university, not just country to country. However, in general, the education you receive will translate fairly easily from place to place, as you will be studying broad concepts like chemistry, biology, psychology, etc. You will learn about the specific practices of each animal care facility further down the line when you begin your internships and such. 

Best of luck to you!

I have a school career fair next week, and I chose to research a zookeeper at Disney World's Animal Kingdom. Can I send you my ten questions that I need for my interview?

Asked by Alexa about 7 years ago

Hi Alexa! I have never worked at Animal Kingdom before, but I can certainly do my best to answer your questions. Please send them to lisaannokane(at)outlook(dot)com, and I will get them back to you as soon as I can. Thanks!

what is the role of zookeeper in providing needs of pandas in zoos or nature preserves?

Asked by Lydia over 7 years ago

Hi Lydia, and so sorry for the delay in my response. With any animal, zookeepers are responsible for providing a safe and secure environment, mental and physical stimulation, a healthy diet, proper veterinary care, and opportunities for the animal to engage in natural behaviors like digging, swimming, nesting, etc. For pandas, this would include providing a habitat similar to their natural habitat, environmental enrichment specifically designed to solicit problem solving and natural responses, and a well-balanced diet that replicates the nutritional needs the animal would receive in the wild.

What is a female wolf behavior during mating season?

Asked by chris almost 8 years ago

Hi Chris! Wolves are interesting mammals, as they are relatively monogamous within their pack structure. Females only go into heat once a year, and this typically lasts a few weeks. During this time, the female and her chosen male will often mate several times, and they will also spend most of their non-mating time together. Once mating season is over, the female wolf will turn much of her attention to her pregnancy--and to preparing a den for her litter's arrival. 

Would it be best to major in Biology, Animal Science, or Zoology in order to become a Zookeeper?

Asked by Erica over 7 years ago

Hi Erica! ANY of those majors would be a great foundation for a career in zookeeping, so I would suggest choosing the one that personally interests you the most. Best of luck to you!

No question, just a heartwarming clip in case you haven't seen it yet, as thanks for an awesome Q&A:) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExEjXLMd4VA

Asked by Jamie about 7 years ago

Awe, thank you so much for sharing this clip! I had never seen it before, and it was wonderful. I particular loved it when the apes hugged when they finally ventured out into the yard. So emotional!

how to conserve and maintain the diversity of animal life?

Asked by dj over 6 years ago

Hi DJ, this is such a broad question that I would recommend actually researching this elsewhere. I wouldn't even know where to start--except to say we should always think about the big picture when we make decisions that affect the entire planet. Best of luck to you!

How can you tell when 2 animals are "just playing" vs. actually fighting? I'm thinking of my 2 cats, but I guess this goes for any type of animal!

Asked by Belle about 7 years ago

Hi Belle! Cats will typically display very different behaviors when they are playing versus when they are fighting. When they are playing, their posture is quite relaxed and "loose," while fight posture is typically very tense, with pinned ears and coiled muscles. Also, cat fights are typically very short and VERY vocal, with lots of hissing, howling and screaming--generally followed by the loser's hasty retreat. Cat wrestling matches are usually fairly quiet, and the wrestling may go on for several minutes with short breaks in between for the animals to regroup and "catch their breath." Hope this helps!

What animal or species would you say that we know the LEAST about?

Asked by Elena almost 7 years ago

Hi Elena, I hate to admit it, but I know almost nothing about marine invertebrates like jellyfish, starfish, crustaceans and anemones. I know they're awesome; just don't ask me how their biological processes work! ;)

Once you got hired to be a trainer, they trained you to do that job, correct? How exactly does "being taught" how to train animals work?

Asked by Milan about 6 years ago

Hi Milan, you are typically not hired to be an animal trainer unless you have a cohesive understanding of the principles of animal training as well as experience working with animals. (These could be domestic or exotic animals, but exotic experience is always a plus.) Most animal trainers begin their careers by volunteering in zoos, aquariums or vet hospitals while they are in school, and then they become interns and/or apprentices before finally working their way up to becoming animal trainers after they graduate.

Once they finally become trainers, they still typically shadow other trainers while they get used to their specific animals. Then, slowly but surely, they begin their own training sessions.

Everyone says that dogs' sense of smell is way better than humans but how do dogs rate vs other ANIMALS? I always wondered why they used dogs to sniff for bombs and drugs. Is it because they have a good sense of smell or because they're trainable?

Asked by instagrammerpolice over 6 years ago

Dogs definitely have a great sense of smell, but you're right. There are many other members of the animal kingdom whose senses of smell is just as good, if not better. Therefore, trainability is certainly a huge factor in our decision to use dogs as service animals.

Some other powerful sniffers are horses, cows, mice, rats and opossums (just to name a few). And the reputed best sniffer in the world is the African elephant. Definitely don't want those tramping down the airport security lines!

what do wolves eat?

Asked by jim over 6 years ago

Hi Jim. Wolves are generally carnivores, and they specialize in hunting cooperatively to bring down large prey like moose, caribou, elk and deer. They will also regularly ingest smaller prey like rodents and rabbits, and they have even been known to scavenge--often caching food and coming back for it later.

what are some of the welfare issues associated with human- animal interactions and how do these differ between zoo visitors and keepers?

Asked by kimberley about 6 years ago

Hi Kimberley, I'm not an expert on this, but I read a really interesting article about it a couple of years ago. It was written by Geoff Hosey from the University of Bolton in the UK, and I actually found the full text for you here: http://www.appliedanimalbehaviour.com/article/S0168-1591(07)00142-6/fulltext

Hope this is helpful!

Hi. I was just wondering what are some signs of distress in penguins?

Asked by Kelsie over 6 years ago

Hi Kelsie! Repetitive behaviors like pacing are easy ones to watch for in penguins. Changes in appetite are usually fairly prevalent as well, and many penguins will actually pluck their own feathers (usually from their bellies) when they are stressed.

Hope this is helpful!

How does a zoo determine how long an animal will remain at the zoo?

We're a 1st grade class in Milpitas, CA and we're working on PBL. We are looking for experts to answer some of our questions. Thank you!

Asked by Burnett Bulldogs - 1st grade over 7 years ago

Hi Burnett Bulldogs, and good luck with your project! Some facilities serve as rehabilitation centers, which means the animal will only stay at the facility for a certain amount of time (while healing from an injury, for example) before being released back into the wild. Other facilities provide permanent homes for animals that have been deemed "unreleasable." This means the animal was either born in human care, orphaned or permanently injured in such a way that the animal isn't capable of surviving on its own out in the wild. These animals will remain in human care for the duration of their lives, and their zookeepers will work hard to ensure they receive the best possible, nutrition, veterinary care, exercise and opportunities for "fun" in the form of environmental enrichment, toys, games, puzzles, etc. 

Please let me know if you have any more questions. I'm happy to help!

Hello, I actually have three questions I would like to ask you so here it goes...
Do animals have the same rights as people do?
Do you think it is a risk factor to their health to let people feed them?

Asked by Animal_lover over 6 years ago

Hi Animal_lover! Animals do not have the same rights people do, but they do have rights. You can learn more about the rights of animals in human care by visiting the websites for their governing bodies. The two organizations most animals in American zoos and aquariums fall under are the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (https://www.aza.org) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (http://www.ammpa.org).

Also, I believe it is a risk factor to let people feed animals in human care unless these activities are strictly monitored. In almost all zoos and aquariums where patrons are given the opportunity to feed the animals, these portions are rationed out and provided as enrichment to the animals--not as the entirety of their diets. Once these "treats" have run out, they won't be provided again until the next day.

I hope this is helpful, and have a wonderful day!

What is the best and worst part of being a zookeeper? Also, are there any health benefits or other perks to the job?

Asked by Potato :3 over 6 years ago

Hi Potato, and thanks so much for the question. The best part for me--hands down--is the relationships I have been able to form with the animals in my care. Outsiders don't often realize animals have preferences for different keepers just like we have preferences for different animals. To me, there is no better feeling in the world than when an animal you love "chooses you," too.

The worst part, unfortunately, is the salary. You have to be prepared to sacrifice a LOT in order to work as a zookeeper in the long-term. Either that, or you need to work a second job or rely on some financial support from your spouse or family.

Do you get a good amount of time to just stay and watch the animals do there thing, and bond with them ? (after you've fed and cleaned up ofcourse)

Asked by Milan about 6 years ago

Hi again, Milan! The amount of time you get to bond with your animals and do enrichment definitely varies by day, by animal, and by shift. Sometimes, you finish all your husbandry duties early and have lots of time for training and enrichment. Other times, you are so busy making sure everyone is fed, cleaned, watered and healthy that you barely have time to breathe. (Thankfully, everything is fairly cyclical, so the "good" days definitely outnumber the "bad!")

Afternoon! after i get my zoology cert, what do you recommend i do next? end goal is to be a zoo keeper

Asked by lily 3 months ago

 

what are some of the tools used to manage undesirable behaviour in zoos? how can a zookeeper assess the effectiveness of these tools?

Asked by Kerry Thompson over 4 years ago

 

Can you tell me what is most important to an animal and the actions he uses to get or protect what is important to him?

Asked by braydeng almost 5 years ago

 

A month ago I adopted a 3yr old mix dog from a shelter and she was a little timid like she had been abused but still loved everyone in my family. Later on she started to act fearful to my brothers, barking at them when she saw them. Why the change?

Asked by Jeanne almost 5 years ago

 

Hi,
I would like to know the required qualifications of a zookeeper in Milan, Italy.
Thank you

Asked by Ana Maria over 5 years ago

 

what sort of knowledge, general or otherwise, does it take to have a career with animals. also for someone with minimal experience with animals, how do they get started on that path?

Asked by Phoebus about 4 years ago

 

what sort of knowledge; general or otherwise, is required to have a career with animals, also what would someone do to start on that career path?

Asked by Phoebus about 4 years ago

 

Hey.I am currently pursuing Btech in Computer Science and Engineering in India.
But zookeeping has become my dream job. Since I donot have any
qualification in this field, can you guide me to where should I start from?
Is there any way I can get into this profession without actually getting a
degree?

Asked by Vasundhara over 5 years ago

 

What are some tools used to manage undesirable behaviour in zoos? How can a zoo keeper assess the effectiveness of these tools?

Asked by Tahlia almost 2 years ago

 

I know I want to work with animals, but I don't know which job to choose. I guess I really just want to know if it's possible to have more than one job at a zoo and how do you know which animal related job is the right choice for you?

Asked by HighSchool2018 about 5 years ago

 

How do zookeepers manage busy schedules?

Asked by Lila over 4 years ago

 

What are some tools used to manage undesirable bah opus in zoos? How can a zoo keeper assess the effectiveness of these tools?

Asked by Kim over 2 years ago

 

How did you become a zookeeper?

Asked by Shantel over 3 years ago

 

Can someone become a zookeeper if they have a certificate instead of a balcher's degree in zoologly?

Asked by Shantel over 3 years ago

 

What would a daily husbandry routine be for a Giraffe?

Asked by Ange over 5 years ago

 

If a giraffe or any zoo animal bit a child while feeding it what is the zoo's responcibility ?

Asked by Richie over 4 years ago

 

I would like to know how it was working as a zookeeper or animal trainer and which you preferred more. I really am working up to be one, but I have not yet decided which would suit me better. I want to be able to work with exotic animals.

Asked by Yasmine about 5 years ago

 

I would like to know how it was working as a zookeeper or animal trainer and which you preferred more. I really am working up to be one, but I have not yet decided which would suit me better. I want to be able to work with exotic animals.

Asked by Yasmine about 5 years ago

 

what tools are used to manage undesirable behaviour in zoos? How can a zoo keeper assess the effectiveness of these tools?

Asked by Shania over 1 year ago

 

What are some tools used to manage undesirable behaviour in zoos? How can a zoo keeper assess the effectiveness of these tools?

Asked by Shania over 1 year ago

 

I'm writing a paper on zoos and I would like to know a few things. How do you insure that the animals get the proper amount of exercise and if they are eating properly.

Asked by matt over 4 years ago

 

Hello! Im in high school and want to become a zookeeper. Many people think that its a bad idea because of the low salary and it would not use my brain to its fullest. What do you think? Is the salary decent? Is it mentally challenging in a good way?

Asked by Rose Wood over 4 years ago

 

Hello! I currently have a bachelors degree in psychology and nursing. Would it behoove (har har) me to go back to school for a more traditional degree? How did you transition from wildlife rehab to a zoo keeper?

Asked by Amber Davis over 4 years ago

 

We had mourning doves nesting above a cabinet in our back yard. It looks like they both have splayed legs. What should I do?

Asked by Tania over 5 years ago

 

Hey, I want to be a zookeeper but I do not know what is the best way to become one. I'm a second year biology student and there are not any zoology colleges within 4 1/2 hours, is it possible to become a zookeeper with just a biology degree?

Asked by Roz the bio student over 2 years ago

 

So there is a lot of enrichment for predators out there of 'dummy' prey items (e.g. a cardboard zebra for a lion pride), but has anyone ever tried a predator 'dummy' for prey to help model slash enrich herding/flocking/school behaviors?

Asked by Hornbill234 about 6 years ago

 

i have a questions about the chattering lory do you know anything about them???????

Asked by Na almost 6 years ago

 

Hi I am studying animal health care and I was wondering animal welfare issues are concerning large animals kept in zoos.

Asked by Jess 11 months ago

 

Do large animals fart much? If they do, how often do they fart?

Asked by Neulua over 4 years ago

 

‘The trade in exotic pets should be banned in the UK’ what are your views

Asked by Joshua almost 6 years ago

 

I am currently studying zoology, and am stuck on this question... if you could help that would be amazing!!!
describe how a zookeeper might monitor the feeding habits of a chimpanzee.

Asked by Emma Winter over 1 year ago

 

I am a freshman in hs and have no idea what to do in life but am very interested in animals and like the idea of being a zookeeper. What is it like and how hard was schooling for you?

Asked by Jac over 3 years ago

 

Hi! My name is Dana Abdelhalim and I go to Ridgewood High School. I am doing a project on the profession of being a zookeeper for my environmental science class. I was wondering what a day as a zookeeper looks like? How many hours does a typical zookeeper work at your zoo? What special qualifications helped you become a zookeeper? Feel free to pick and choose which questions you want to answer and add more if you would like to. Thank you!

Asked by Dana almost 5 years ago

 

What are some Novel items, used for enrichment, that you suggest or have used for wolverines?

Asked by Corey about 3 years ago

 

what is it like working in a zoo with wild animals

Asked by shawna almost 4 years ago

 

What college degree did you obtain to become a Zookeeper? And what emphasis if there was one?

Asked by pet01068 over 3 years ago

 

Why did you choose your career?

Asked by Aiden almost 6 years ago

 

How long is a walrus colon? Small intestine?

Asked by JW over 2 years ago

 

From my 5 yr old son:
"When you go inside a scary animal's cage like a lion or a tiger, how do you not get eaten?"

Asked by SF Dad almost 6 years ago

 

Are you able to describe how a zookeeper might monitor the feeding habits of a chimpanzee please

Asked by jade 5 months ago

 

can you please list general requirements for the safe storage of food within a zoo

Asked by jade 5 months ago

 

What are some of the major health issues associated with animals kept in captivity?

Asked by jade 4 months ago

 

I have a cat at my house and a dog at my boyfriends house. I bring my cat every other weekend so he can get adjusted to the dog but I don't think this is the correct way. The dog is hyper and large. How can I get them to like each other?

Asked by Lui and Bear over 1 year ago

 

What are some tools used to manage undesirable behaviour in zoos? How can a zookeeper assess the effectiveness of these tools

Asked by Emma Clive 4 months ago

 

I'm looking into becoming a zoologist and need to interview someone in the field. Could you please list your strengths, weaknesses, and why you wanted the job? Also, what attracted you to the study, what do you like most/least, and surprised you?

Asked by Korey almost 4 years ago

 

In school where you really good at science and maths? My dream job is either a zoologist or a zookeeper and I'm wondering how hard it is to get a job

Asked by Saffie over 5 years ago

 

Have you ever had a genet? Are they good pets? What is there diet?

Asked by Natalie Ross over 2 years ago

 

how might a zookeeper monitor the feeding habits of a chimpanzee?

Asked by Toni 9 months ago

 

If a zookeeper was going to do a veterinarian check up with a moose and the moose began to get agitated or frightened and reacted with a flight instinct and unintentionally injured a staff member on site, what would happen to the moose?

Asked by Mercedez Praslin almost 5 years ago

 

I'm currently studying at BYU Idaho, trying to earn my animal science degree. I'm taking a class that needs me to interview someone within my field of study. If I could email you the questions, please email me when you can. :) morgan22725@gmail.com

Asked by Morgan Pickens over 2 years ago