Tuesday, July 10, 2012

FAQ - What’s it like to be a zookeeper?

Being a zookeeper is like taking care of several hundred children who never grow up. It’s a twenty-four/seven job. In other words, you do not get weekends off, your job is not finished at five o’clock in the afternoon, and don’t even think in terms of a vacation! 

Animals are living feeling beings. Besides food, water, a clean compound, and shelter from the weather; they have all sorts of emotional needs that must be met.  Regardless of species, they have fears, hurts, and angers just like people do. If you accept the responsibility of being a zookeeper, that means you take on the responsibility of understanding their needs and meeting them.

If you don’t like getting dirty, you should never become a zookeeper.  There are times when you feel the only thing in your life is animal poop. Every single day you must rake and shovel wheelbarrows full of it and haul it away. We had a compost bed in the back where we dumped ours.  As it decomposed, we used it in our garden. 

You must be strong enough to lug fifty-pound bags of feed around and heft eighty-pound bales of hay. You must be fit enough to wrestle a one hundred and twenty pound sheep who escaped his pen (yet again) away from the chicken feed trough so he won’t literally eat himself to death.  You must be agile enough to out-maneuver a grown white-tailed deer so you can restrain her long enough to at least partially rub her down with diatomaceous earth to kill the deer lice before she beats you to death with her spindly, but incredibly strong forelegs.

If you have any questions about being a zookeeper, about zoos, about my zoo Storybook Farm Petting Zoo, or about The Thwarting of Mr. Dingsnapple,  please ask.

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