It’s back! Last year we had so much fun celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week and profiling our keepers, so we wanted to do it again! To recognize the dedication and hard work of our amazing zookeepers, we are posting an interview of a keeper each day this week. We’re already off to a good start with this invdividual!
Meet the Zookeeper: Alexandra Phillips
Q: How did you become a zookeeper?
A: “I earned a degree in Zoology and Primatology from the University of Calgary (and I’m actually working on my Masters of Science in Veterinary Medical Education!). I always knew that working with animals was a ‘for sure’; I enjoy the diversity and the challenges, because when you’re working with animals, every day is different. My experience is mainly in veterinary medicine, so that’s the lens through which I view my work here. I’ve worked in vet clinics since I was 15, and then spent time working for the Calgary Human Society, wildlife rehabilitation for 4-5 years, and for a Canadian warmblood horse breeding facility. I’ve worked in Animal Care for 15 years in a variety of different capacities, but zookeeping was always a job that I loved and wanted to do. It was very much on a pedestal for me- I wasn’t sure if it was attainable. When this position opened up I was so excited to apply.”
Q: When did you start working as a zookeeper for the Calgary Zoo?
A:”The job was posted this year, and I just thought ‘why not?’ I thought that it would at least be good experience to apply, and then I got it! I’ve been here since February 28.”
Q: What’s your favourite animal to work with?
A: “I really like our elk and our bison, but I’m also really fond of the wolves and the otters. I love the Canadian Wilds- maybe because you grow up taking those animals for granted, and then when you get up close it’s incredible. They all have personality, and I just feel this sense of awe being around them. I think my background working in Wildlife Rehabilitation also has brought that out in me- I’m such a steward for Canadian wildlife.”
Q: What’s a great zookeeping story that you can share with us?
A: “I love watching people’s reactions to the animals, and seeing them engage in that moment. You can just see them shine. I feel that it’s important for me to pass on my enthusiasm, so when I do keeper talks, I’m able to pay my passion forwards.”