The New Zookeeper
Typical Day


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August 2000
April 2001
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A Day In The Life...

... as if there is a typical day!

9:00am - Arrive for work, clock in, review yesterday's notes, mist all the reptiles and take temps for all the animals, begin preparing diets for the day.

9:30am - Begin feeding/Training sessions. Feed Cheetah, and clean up tons of stinky cheetah crap and other cheetah bodily excrements. Feed/train Prairie dog. Accompany coworkers when they feed Lynx, Serval, and the other Cheetah.

10:00am - Begin first in-park presentation, usually with the Lynx kitten. Field all sorts of questions, and try to be polite even when people ask how to have these wild animals as pets.

10:30am - Chores in the main building. Dishes, cleaning, wipe off nose prints and yesterday's melted ice cream off the viewing windows, etc.

11:00am - First scheduled program, the cat chat. Walk down to cheetah exhibit, and talk to guests (anywhere from 5-35 people) about the cheetah's adaptations for fast running, cheetah conservation, and field all their other questions. Try to talk clearly and loudly enough to be heard, even when the train goes right by. Try not to squint too much, since it's rude to wear sunglasses, but the sun shines right in my eyes.

11:20am - Go up to mews to pick up the Swainson's hawk in time for the first show. Practice driving our huge intimidating van up a potholed gravel road.

11:40am - After quickly changing my shirt to the show shirt, rush over to the theatre to help talk for the pre-show, the part where we entertain the people who have gotten there early. I usually end up narrating and fielding questions about our Lynx kitten, since I'm still a hands-off person at this point.

12:00am - First show starts. Help backstage catching and releasing our domestic animal stars, and go on stage with the Swainson's hawk. Help with the backstage chaos.

12:30 - LUNCH TIME!!! Catch up on all the day's gossip.

1:00 - Lunch time for the cheetah. Prep food and feed or play backup. Spend an extra 10 minutes talking to visitors who want to know more but didn't make it to the earlier cat chat.

1:15 - Chores. Or, maybe take a critter to meet some of our visitors.

1:30 - Prep for next show.

2:00 - Next show. Same as last show, but now we are all more tired and cranky. One animal has unexpected delays. Cover for it, the show must go on.

2:30 - Chores.

3:00 - Take the snakes out to meet the visitors. Tons of people ask how slimey they are, what they eat, why aren't i afraid for it to eat me, and if it's poisonous. I encourage everyone to touch carefully and teach as much as I can about snakes, dispelling as many myths as possible. Encourage adult snake virgins to touch and get over their fear. Nicely, of course! Each person who goes from scared to saying "oh, it feels so much nicer than I thought!" simply makes my day!

3:30 - Prep for last show of the day.

4:00 - Last show of the day. We're all tired, and it's hot, and we're cranky and the animals are cranky. Props fall off on stage, and someone has to go get it. Poloroid camera fails to work. Audience loves us anyways.

4:30 - Feed pm diets to animals. Take bird back to mews. Mist reptiles and take pm temperatures of all animals' enclosures. Feed pm diet to cheetah. Record animal behavior/health/training notes for the day. Answer 10 more minutes of questions from wonderful interested visitors. Wash tons of dishes.

5:30 - Clock out!


Other tasks we have spent considerable time doing:

1) Chopping buckets of raw meat (cow, horse, deer/elk roadkill...) into daily ration bags. It's a little like doing a bloody dissection.

2) Cleaning the walking sticks (Austrailian and N.American) and adding new browse (blackberry bramble-- ouch!)

3) Weeding and fixing up enclosures

4) MEETINGS! Ick! But, they're necessary.

5) Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning!!!