Sissi’s interest on Psychiatry/mental illnesses:
more clearly, she gave preference to insane asylums –even abroad, where there
was no question of representing the crown; her visits were purely private. She
inquired at length about the stories of the patients. At that time, treatment
of the insane was still in its infancy. It was considered sufficient in most
cases to keep the patients locked up, to feed them and care for them. Elisabeth
had a burning interest in new therapeutic experiments; she was, for example,
present on one occasion when a patient was hypnotized –at the time, a new
interest in mental illness and its treatment might have indicated the beginning
of a commitment. But Elisabeth never took the step leading to active support of
new therapies, though in 1871 she proposed a singular name-day wish to the Emperor:
“Since you have asked me what would give me pleasure, I beg you for either a
Bengal tiger (Zoological Garden in Berlin, 3 cubs) or a locket. What I would
like best of all is a fully equipped insane asylum. Now you have enough choices”.
And four days later: “My thanks in advance for the locket… Unfortunately, you
appear not to have given the other two things a moment´s consideration”. Elisabeth’s
interest in insane asylums was seen as another of her many bizarre ways,
frequently ridiculed and disparaged as completely unsuitable to an empress.<<
Hamman, The Reluctant Empress: A Biography of Empress Elisabeth of Austria.
Lines of the Australian 9th and 10th Battalions at Mena Camp, looking towards the Pyramids. The soldier in the foreground is playing with a kangaroo, the regimental mascot. Many Australian units brought kangaroos and other Australian animals with them to Egypt, and some were given to the Cairo Zoological Gardens when the units went to Gallipoli.
I received a question recently about the differences of working with species or sections within zoos. I thought i would post a small bit of a break down on various departments in order for people to perhaps know what to expect when working with particular species
Things do differ from collection to collection but the basic ethos is there. This is for people keen to know the core realities of management of particular sections.
Aquatics, Herpetology and Invertebrates
these three departments are seen as somewhat more scientific than say, a mammal department. You have species that require such specific controls in temperature, light, and general habitat condition that there is a lot numbers and behavior to be recorded. there is lots of cleaning of tanks and holding boxes to be done, aquatic experience is often required even in reptile and invert departments these days as siphoning water and looking after some fish and crustacean species often fall in these departments these days..You also maybe with dealing with animals with an incredibly short life spans when working with inverts, however with some reptile departments, say a Galapagos tortoise..you maybe working with some incredibly old animals too!
However there is just a phenomenal amount of work in terms of conservation breeding and studies done in these areas that, due to the animals not being cuddly and furry sometimes go unheard of. The reason for this is sometimes the cost of working to save a captive colony of Partula snail for example, is far more cost effective then say, a group of Bonobo. (food costs per animal or group etc) Arguably they can achieve far more conservation work and stay in budget.
Birds And Mammals
Working with birds will differ slightly in terms of species, such as if you are working with animals such as vultures or with Penguins. This goes without saying - There is always lots of scrubbing to be done Birds poo a lot so lots of cleaning of floors and rock faces. Aquatic experience is also often desired especially with penguins.
There is often opportunities to hand rear birds and Train and fly birds for shows for the public and public feeds . In some organisations the opportunities to re-release birds back to the wild.
Mammals I will try and breakdown a little bit as it seems to be a popular area of work.
from rats and mice to bats and loris and tamarins. It can often mean working in small often dark enclosures, where you may have to contort yourselves through ropes and Liliana! often you will be sharing the enclosures with the animals while you clean and feed. along with Lots of damping down enclosures with a hose to keep the Humidity up.
Preparing food for small mammals can be a chore. You often have to weigh fruit, vegetables and other feed such as pellet and seed mix very precisely. I always found it comical because sometimes their food dishes look like little salad bar servings! so it is very precise.
Elephants & Hoofstock
Full contact work with Elephants, going in with a herd and walking them is something which is very much dying out. Many reputable zoos are in the process of, or already have switched to Protective contact systems. In my opinion far too many keepers have been killed or seriously injured, and its not something that I deem is necessary to a herds well being. Most of the time it also means keepers have to discipline their elephants and again far too many times we hear stories in the press of elephants being abused.
Working with Elephants you will be shoveling A LOT of heavy and large poo. the size of soccer balls. not to mention old browse, hay and bedding. It is really hard work so you must be willing to be fit, strong and healthy.
There are opportunities to bottle feed young Elephants sometimes.
I firmly believe that Elephants are probably some of the most dangerous animals that you can work with in a zoo, you must really have your wits about you.
Care of Hoofstock is somewhat similar to elephants, you spend much time day to day shoveling and forking lots of bedding. Some would say its much like working on a farm.
With both Elephants and hoof stock there are opportunities to train, for things like foot care of Okapi or zebra and such, and ear and trunk care in the case of elephants.
Working with Primates is extremely Clinical. Be prepared for a heck of a lot of cleaning. Great apes especially can catch human disease and infection so there is a lot of scrubbing poo off floors, walls and climbing apparatus. It is of course extremely rewarding and your animals do give you a lot of interaction. Being close relatives it is a deep bond you make with your animals (that is not to say you do not with other species) but be prepared for some emotional times when animals are unwell or sadly pass away.. its not easy. Depending on where you work there is lots of opportunities to train animals also. Many good zoos will encourage a heavy amount of enrichment for their primates.
Again the danger is always there. Apes and large monkeys especially will try and grab you. whether they mean to be aggressive or just playful they can do a lot of damage through protective mesh. safety and protocol is of utmost importance. Lock checking and a strict routines are in place such as accounting for all animals when going into an inside or outside animal area. in addition to ensure there is not a mistake made and an animal is able to escape. Primates are smart enough to know what locks are for and are known to try and pull at them !
Working with large carnivores, Big cats and canines or bears is also fairly clinical. lots of scrubbing and blasting out animal areas with hoses!
Its important to be aware of stereotyping from some carnivores can be particularly bad. they must have an enriched life in captivity.
You will need to be comfortable with preparing large joints of meat and hanging them on poles and at heights within enclosures. Security is also important with carnivores very similar protocol will be in place when working with carnivores. When you have packs of dogs and wolves its important t head count all animals, and be able to keep an eye on all their health and well being.
I’ve probably rambled somewhat off the subject in places but i hope it makes sense. I’ve obviously not covered all species or section areas but its a rough outline. If anyone has anything to add or an opinion to give let me know!
Australian troops at Mena Camp, Egypt, December 1914, looking towards the Pyramids. Many Australian units brought kangaroos and other Australian animals with them to Egypt, and some were given to the Cairo Zoological Gardens when the units went to Gallipoli.