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. You should flock to watch this one- today’s the sixth individual, and it’s penguin keeper Amy Bowden! From working at her local zoo in the UK to starting at the Calgary Zoo in 2016, Amy is a welcome addition to our fantastic Animal Care team.
Meet the Zookeeper: Amy Bowden
Q: How did you become a zookeeper?
A: “I had always known I wanted to work with animals, and was always around them growing up. I have volunteered at various animal related places, so after completing a degree in Conservation Biology, I found a job at my local zoo in the UK. I was there for five years and found that it was something that I really enjoyed and found very rewarding.”
Q: When did you start working as a zookeeper for the Calgary Zoo?
A: “I have been at the Calgary Zoo for just over a year now. I started in May 2016 as an on-call keeper and then was given the full-time position at the beginning of June this year. I spent my time as an on-call mainly working in the giraffe section and now as a full-time keeper I’m working with the penguins.”
Q: What’s your favourite animal to work with?
A: “It’s very hard to pick a favorite animal especially when they are all so different, but if I had to choose, I would say currently my favorite to work with are the giraffes. They are a species that I had never worked with before coming to the Calgary Zoo and they are very rewarding to work with! They are also the animal I have worked with the longest here at the zoo, so I have got to know their individual personalities. I think with each section we work on, zookeepers find a new animal that we love. ”
Q: What’s a great zookeeping story that you can share with us?
A: “One of my most positive experiences, and the most rewarding, was working with our new female Masai Giraffe, Emara. When she first came to the Calgary from San Diego Safari Park she was put into quarantine- animals have to do this when moving between zoos. We needed her to come into our giraffe chute and have blood taken before she could be introduced to our other giraffes, but we wanted to do this in the least stressful way possible, which would be by her own choosing. She needed to trust us enough to walk in on her own.
We started getting her used to coming over to take food out of our hands, and then slowly working towards walking into the chute. It was a slow but steady process, but gained confidence while being around us and being in the chute, as it meant yummy rewards (giraffe friendly cookies)! So after a lot of preparation the day with the vets arrived and Emara needed to enter the chute. She did- and she was such a star!
Working with her gradually over the month and watching her walk into the chute by herself was amazing to watch. You could see her confidence grow.”
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.