It’s National Zoo Keeper Week and we’re sharing the love! To recognize the dedication and hard work of our amazing zookeepers, we are posting an interview of a keeper each day this week. It’s the final day, so it’s fitting that we can BEAR-LY wait to highlight this keeper – it’s Brandy LaSalle! Read on to hear about her work with the zoo’s giraffes and bears.
Meet the Zookeeper: Brandy LaSalle
Q: How did you become a zookeeper?
A: “I grew up with a traveling petting zoo and ever since I was little, I knew that I wanted to work with animals. My first dream job was to be a unicorn trainer! After completing a high school co-op at the Toronto Zoo, my next dream was to work with hippos, which I was fortunate to do when I first started here.”
Q: When did you start working as a zookeeper for the Calgary Zoo?
A: “I started working for the zoo in April 2010, but I had volunteered here during the previous winter. I drove down from Edmonton to volunteer two days a week for about two months!”
Q: What’s your favourite animal to work with?
A: “Umm… can’t you guess?! BEARS!!! Honestly though, hippos use to be my all-time favorite, but after working with the grizzlies and black bears, I really can’t choose between bears and hippos. They are all so unique and have such big personalities.”
Q: What’s a great zookeeping story that you can share with us?
A: “That would be teaching Tut, the king penguin, to eat out of the pool all on his own. I was one of the first keepers to work on penguins when the Penguin Plunge building opened in 2012, and when Tut arrived he couldn’t eat a fish by himself. He was young and was a little inexperienced – I mean, he wouldn’t even swallow it on his own. I think there’s still some silly photos on the internet of me feeding him with a ridiculous smile from the opening day of the building.
It took us months to teach him how to swallow the fish on his own, then once he figured that one out, we had to teach him how to eat fish out of the water. I almost fell in a few times too! It’s amazing getting to watch these animals grow and learn, and now I feel like I’m getting to do it again with the grizzlies. We are all learning together, which is so special.”
Thank you for joining us for National Zoo Keeper Week 2017! Check out our blog to see videos of a different zookeeper each day from July 16-22, 2017.
The support of our community makes possible our critical work protecting wildlife and wild places. Your trip to the Calgary Zoo helps us sustain wildlife and wild places. Visit today and learn more about the work of the Centre for Conservation Research at the Calgary Zoo.