National Zoo Keeper Week

Jul 23, 2014

It’s National Zoo Keeper Week, so what better time to celebrate the incredible careers of our keepers, and the work that they do each and every day. So far this week we’ve featured keeper profiles, but what does a day in the life of a keeper look like?

Being a zookeeper is a lot of responsibility- working with the veterinary staff at the zoo, the animal care staff’s responsibilities include looking after the physical, psychological & social health of each species.

The day to day work schedule of a keeper varies- on what section they’re working, and on what animal. In any given moment, a keeper could be prepping the animals’ food (each animal has a specifically monitored diet), shifting them between the different sections of their habitats, giving them enrichments and even just observing their behavior.

Enrichment can be anything from a fun toy for the animal to play with, to something new to smell and discover in their habitat, or a challenging new way to retrieve their food. Animal enrichment aims to bring variety to an animals’ day, as well as help them to use problem solving skills, and encourage natural behavior to new stimulants.

Some of the less appealing jobs include cleaning the enclosures, and picking up… well, what the animals have left behind them. So why don’t the keepers have someone else picking up the animal’s droppings?

As keeper Kristi Schlaepfer put it “it’s important for me to clean up after the animals I care for- even something that seems gross, like picking up their poop. I am able to tell if a particular animal isn’t feeling well from how their feces looks, and if someone else had picked it up for me, I might have missed one of those early signs. It’s all part of caring for the animal in a comprehensive way.”

We're proud of our incredible animal care staff here at the Calgary Zoo, and we salute the dedication shown each and every day by our hardworking zookeepers.