Zoo-Keeper

so tonight im working super late at an adults-only event at the zoo where it’s basically endless beer and wine tasting and then wandering around the zoo at night. Keepers mainly sit around then we just take turns going up for a circuit through our areas and let me tell you as the night has gone on things have gotten more entertaining. So far I have seen:

-A group of drunk girls legit crying in front of the puffin exhibit because they’re Too Cute

-A dude pointed at a vacant eyed, open mouthed, coldwater fish and, completely deadpan, turned to his friend and went “it’s you”

-overheard a very serious debate on whether or not sea turtles sleep (”Ted you fucking moron everything fuckin sleeps jesus christ”

-A girl stroking her hand back and forth on the glass in front of a chillin Amazon cichlid (idk what part ok freshwater exhibits aint my thing) cooing “It’s just so pretty I want to be it’s friend”

-A man enthusiastically singing a ballad in front of the aquarium with some grand drunk improv like one standout line was “What we doin at the zoOOOoooOOooo? We drinkin a breeEWWWwwwwwwwww!”

You know, a lot of people don’t realize this but….

The animals at the zoo represent so many opportunities for biologists around the world to learn basic information about, well, animals! We get research proposals all the time from researchers, both among our own staff and globally, seeking permission to include the animals in their research. We approve the proposals that are of the greatest scientific value, that have potential to help us even further improve our qualities of animal care, and that are certain to cause no harm of any form to the animals. Recently two papers were published in major academic journals by scientists from regional universities that contribute some fascinating information to the global body of knowledge about animals.

Dr. Bonnie M. Perdue (Department of Psychology, Agnes Scott College) published: Perdue, B.M. 2016. The effect of computerized testing on Sun Bear behavior and enrichment preferences.            Behavioral Sciences 6, 19; doi:10.3390/bs6040019

The field of comparative cognition investigates species’ differences and similarities in cognitive abilities, and sheds light on the evolutionary origins of such capacities. Dr. Perdue realized that, while cognitive studies commonly are conducted with animals such as dogs, elephants, primates, and even giant pandas, many animals have never been studied. So, she applied some standard methods, using an ingenious rugged computerized touchscreen apparatus, to our sun bears. Bears typically use their tongues to explore and manipulate their environment and, she found that the bears actively engaged the touchscreen menus with their tongues.



The screens had dabs of honey on them in the earlier trials, to draw the bears’ attention to these novel objects. Once familiarized with the screens, the bears proceeded to learn to interact with specific color- or shape-targets on the screen in exchange for treats. Soon, the bears were preferring to interact with the computer screens more than any of the other enrichment items available to them. This study discovered a new method by which bears can be studied and showed that the experiments were preferred by the bears who actively involved themselves at every opportunity. This is fascinating stuff!

Alexis Noel (a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech) and her colleagues published: Noel, A.C., Guo, H-Y., Mandica, M., Hu, D.L. 2017 Frogs use a viscoelastic tongue and non-Newtonian saliva to catch prey.           Journal of the Royal Society Interface 14: 20160764.           http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2016.0764

Frogs can capture insects, mice and even birds using only their tongue, with a speed and versatility unmatched in the world of synthetic materials. How can the frog tongue be so sticky? In this multi-faceted study that included some frogs here, used high-speed films of frog feeding to understand the behaviors involved in tongue-feeding. Then they used high-tech measurements and characterizations of frog tongues at Georgia Tech to investigate the structural properties of frog tongues and saliva.



They found that the tongue’s unique stickiness results from a combination of an incredibly soft and stretchable anatomy soft and a saliva that simply does not follow the normal rules of how liquids respond to pressure. The tongue acts like a car’s shock absorber during insect capture, absorbing energy and so preventing separation from the insect. The unique saliva spreads over the insect during impact, grips it firmly to the tongue, and yet it slides off easily once it is back in the mouth. This combination of properties gives the tongue 50 times greater work of adhesion than known synthetic material (such as everyone’s favorite, the sticky-hand toy). These insights offer many new ideas and models for applications in industry and engineering. Yet more proof that frogs are the coolest animals on Earth!
To learn more things people dont realize about zoos here ~>  Zoos Queues

Have you ever wondered what happens when Zoos receives a new animal? Where does that animal go? How do we introduce it to its new friends?

A lot of people don’t know this but…

We get most of our birds for our collection from other zoos. Most of the time, we are getting these birds due to recommendations from other zoo professionals for those animals to breed, but sometimes it is because they may no longer have space for them, or they have lone birds that need some friends.  For example, we have a single male Guira cuckoo that lives in our Living Treehouse habitat. While this bird lives with almost 40 other birds, he no longer lived with another of his species, so we needed to find him a companion. Luckily, another Zoo had a female cuckoo that they were willing and able to send to us.

So the paperwork begins! Once we get the correct permits and permissions from both zoos

Not a lot of people know this but transporting an animal is hard

Besides getting approval from each of the vets saying that the bird is healthy enough to travel, we all have to agree on travel arrangements. Then, due to exotic laws being state regulated, we have to get permission and permits from every state we drive through!  On her arrival, the first step that any animal goes through is to go through a 30-day quarantine. This is to ensure that the new animals are healthy, while keeping it away from any other collection animals, just in case they have anything that can spread to other animals.  As you can imagine, most animals make it through quarantine without any problems.

Once released from quarantine, there are a few different ways that we can introduce birds to each other, and they all depend on the personalities of the animals involved. Because our cuckoo lives in The Living Treehouse with many other birds, we decided to put our lone male into our indoor space for this introduction. This space is divided into two aviaries with a connecting door between them. So we placed the female on one side and the male on the other, allowing them visual access but not physical access. This gives the two birds time to get used to each other and gives the keepers time to assess how they are going to act.

After 24 hours, and no negative interactions through the mesh, we opened the shift door. Usually these introductions are uneventful, birds get along, or they don’t mind each other and sometimes they bond immediately. Rarely do we have issues, but we are always prepared for them. Because these cuckoos are so social, we were confident that he would be very agreeable to meeting a girlfriend. But when we opened that shift door, the male flew over to the female, the female fluffed up all of her feathers, and the male landed on the perch right next to her. They sat about six inches apart, then four, then two, then right next to each other! Within hours the male started grooming the feathers on his new girlfriend’s head! Today, at any moment, we can walk into the indoor space and see these two sitting very close to each other, and preening. It’s a very good match!

To learn more things people dont realize about zoos here ~>  Zoos Queues
Qualities of Quality Keepers: #4 - Checking Your Ego

Zookeeping is a cool job, and believe me, keepers are keenly aware of that.  We know that what we do every day is special and amazing, and it makes us super happy.  On the flip side of that, we also feel the weight of the immense responsibility we have to our animals.  Here, have a look at this equation:

[(doing something really cool that few people get to do) x (knowing how cool it is and feeling kinda special because of it)] + [(having a lot of responsibility) x (frequent expert handling of very intense scenarios that are often literally life-or-death)] = an ego the size of Jupiter.

Does it have to be this way?  Well, to be honest, probably yeah.  But there are ways to keep that ego in line for your own sake, and the sake of everyone around you – including your animals.

Keep reading

the past is a strange place

cops on bikes used to transport criminals like this

this guy worked as an alarm for waking people up

one wheel motorcycle

pin-boys who manually lined pins up

baby cage for families who wanted their kids to get enough sunlight

zoo-keeper showering a penguin

Why I Want to be a Keeper

I have been seeing more and more people I used to volunteer with vehemently speaking out against zoos and captivity in general.  Many of whom being people I respect, there have been a few moments where I felt a shred of guilt for wanting to do what I do.  And I had to remind myself why I want to do what I do, and why I support (responsible and accredited!) zoos.

We have moved, for the most part, past the age of wild capture for captivity as far as our larger landmark species go.  Giraffes haven’t been brought from Africa in some 30 years.  The SSP means zoos can breed and “donate” animals to other zoos.  There simply is no need to take from the wild and therefore, for the most part it doesn’t happen.

The majority of animals you see in zoos are captive born.  And that is the card they’ve been dealt and where they will live.  A good zoo will provide the most natural, enriched quality of life possible for that animal.  And who does that?

The keepers.  The keepers are the ones that make the difference in those animals’ lives and gives them the best life possible.  You can be against zoos all you want but the fact of the matter is they are full of animals that need care and will not ever be released back into the wild.  When presented correctly, these animals inspire, awe, and lead people to care.  People connect with what they can see.  And what’s more, these keepers talk to people.

I hated talking to/in front of people in the past.  It was my least favorite activity and I couldn’t stand it.

Until I found something to talk about.  Giving tours at BCR was one of my favorite things to do when it was initially what made me the most nervous.  Talking to people at the zoo now about the giraffes makes me incredibly happy and I love seeing their eyes light up when they hear something new or unexpected.  

 Tell your story, tell stories about the animals, connect your audience to that animal and you have made a difference.  Like what had been the case with me when I was younger, you are inspiring future generations to care deeply about animals and maybe even take up a career in the field.  Or simply inspiring people to do their part in protecting their wild counterparts.

And we cannot forget that good zoos raise money for conservation organizations around the world.  A zoo career is also a career in conservation.  You are changing people’s lives and most importantly changing the lives of the animals you care for.  And that is what fulfills me and that is my passion.   That is how I plan to change the world.  And that is why I support zoos.

Jenna talking about how she dreamed of being a zoo keeper when she was little, then remembers all the pets she and Julian already have and the audience starts to scream names of other animals they should get

Jenna: *trying to understand the screaming* an owl? a towel? ….. oh dan howell! *laughs* Whenever you mention Dan Howell is just *makes cute little noises* You know who loves Dan and Phil more than anybody though *points at Julien* Exposed!

Julien: Oh yeah, are you kidding me? I got to sit on a couch with them, it was amazing!


This made my day

100 AU's

1. Mermaid Au
2. Firefighter AU
3. Vampire AU
4. Magic AU
5. Zombie Apocalypse AU
6. Vampire Slayer AU
7. DJ’s AU
8. Pole Dancer AU
9. Bartender AU
10. Werewolf AU
11. Magicians AU
12. Vloggers AU
13. Beach AU
14. Space AU
15. Dragon AU
16. Magical Forest AU
17. Zoo Keepers AU
18. Bowling Alley Workers AU
19. Sirens AU
20. Pirates AU
21. Medieval AU
22. Royalty AU
23. Youtubers AU
24. Authors AU
25. Demon AU
26. Farm AU
27. Tattoo AU
28. Edgy AU
29. High School AU
30. Criminals AU
31. Mobsters AU
32. Gardeners AU
33. Bake Sale AU
34. Modern Day AU
35. Slayers AU
36. Centaur AU
37. Castle AU
38. Harry Potter AU
39. Horror Movie AU
40. Romance Movie AU
41. Techno Music AU
42. Travellers AU
43. Pregnant AU
44. Adoption AU
45. Fairy AU
46. Forbidden Love AU
47. Rivals AU
48. Best Friends to Lovers AU
49. Scientists AU
50. Western AU
51. Movie Stars AU
52. Teachers AU
53.Witches/Wizards AU
54. Competitive Etsy Sellers AU
55. Store Owners AU
56. Cooks AU
57. Same Awful Job AU
58. Animators AU
59. Super Hero AU
60. Disney AU
61. Reality TV Stars AU
62. The End of The World AU
63. Fireworks AU
64. Bad Asses AU
65. Meeting Beyoncé AU
66. Meeting Nicki Minaj AU
67. Finding A Magical Sword AU
68. Reading Smut to One Another AU
69. Deep Sea Adventures AU
70. Camping AU
71. Concert AU
72. Meme AU
73. Hairstylists AU
74. Killers AU
75. Flower Shop AU
76. Rock Star AU
77. Soul Mate AU
78. Meeting in Hell AU
79. Asshole Cat AU
80. Marriage AU
81. Met in the Club AU
82. Backwards Day AU
83. Kindergarten AU
84. Cash Register Person AU
85. Same Dorm AU
86. Prank War AU
87. Hackers AU
88. Goth AU
89. Pretending to be Dating AU
90. Motorcycle AU
91. Meet through their siblings AU
92. Same Bus Ride AU
93. Tax Driver AU
94. 20 Questions AU
95. Puns AU
96. Ghost AU
97. Time Travelling AU
98. Singers AU
99. Dogs AU
100. Wings AU

All hail Bilbo, the mighty giraffe slayer!

One of the best and most important part of my job is enriching our animals, by giving them new things to interact with.
Bilbo, the Eurasian Eagle Owl loooooves interacting with new objects, and he really enjoys his stuffed animals. He mostly likes trying to destroy them….