National Zoo Keeper Week 2018 – Meet Carrie Coleman

It’s National Zoo Keeper Week and we’re sharing the love! To recognize the dedication and hard work of our amazing zoo keepers, we are posting an interview of a keeper each day this week. Meet the fantastic Carrie Coleman, a passionate Lead Keeper whose work with animals has transformed her opinions of zoos and conservation work.

Meet the Zookeeper: Carrie Coleman

Q: How did you become a zoo keeper?

A: “I started volunteering in 1996 at the zoo while finishing my Physical Anthropology degree. I was hired on the following year. After a few years of working on-call and traveling the world, I was hired on full time. Once I started to really get involved with the species here at the zoo I found that I had a real desire to keep trying to do the very best I could for them on a daily basis. Now that I am a Lead Keeper, I strive to look at the bigger picture and to continue to do the very best I can for them on a larger scale.”

Q: When did you start working as a zoo keeper for the Calgary Zoo?

A: “1997!”

Q: What’s your favourite animal to work with?

A: “Oh…..this is too hard!!! The gorillas, lemurs, mandrills and colobus are all amazing as non-human primate representatives, but those birds in the aviary constantly keep me on my toes, and the reptiles help me to continue to learn and marvel everyday.”

Q: What’s a great zoo keeping story that you can share with us?

A: “After the flood, the Animal Care team had to focus on finding homes for most of the animals that had lived in the old South America building and some of Eurasia, as their habitats had been damaged too badly for them to return to. Everything happened so fast; animals that had been an integral part of my and other keepers’ lives were loaded up and moved out within weeks. There was one shipment near the end where several crates were set up and waiting in the Animal Health Center breezeway for the truck to come. All of the animals were silent. It was a moment of quiet reflection for me to see them all together like that. I sat next to Tunku and Saki, the white-handed gibbons. Tunku put his hand up to the tiny mesh and we sat like that for as long as we could before the truck arrived and they were loaded up. And then they were gone.

As keepers, the relationships that we build with these animals under our care is what drives us to do better every day.  It is so much more than just a job. It is the reason that I have stayed so long.”

Thank you for joining us for National Zoo Keeper Week 2018! Check out our blog to see videos of a different zookeeper each day from July 15-21, 2018.

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.


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