A couple of months ago, I had the chance to interview Ms. Kristin Abt who was a former zookeeper in Maryland Zoo, Baltimore, United States. However, she did not continue to pursue her career as a zookeeper, but became a teacher in my school instead. Below are the excerpts of my interview.
As a zookeeper, Ms. Kristin finds the job both challenging and beneficial at the same time. She suggests that those who are interested should study biology or animal science to obtain knowledge on animal behaviour. Volunteering early can also help gain experience. When asked what her favourite part of the job was, her reply was training animals to control themselves. Zookeepers are usually assigned to care for a specific group of animals which is good as they then get to bond with the animals. Even though the job does not pay very much, Ms. Kristin still enjoyed her occupation due to her love for animals.
Ms. Kristin mentioned that being a zookeeper can get one very busy at times as they have the responsibility of cleaning cages, talking to visitors and also attending staff meetings. Cages get cleaned everyday and disinfected every few weeks or so. Visitors are warned that animals that have sharp teeth can be aggressive at times. According to her, a lot of safety precautions are taken to prevent animals from escaping. This includes placing animals behind bars and electric fencing. Also, zookeepers have to double check to ensure that the locks are secured. When an animal escapes, they will have to follow a protocol to close the doors and evacuate visitors to a safe place. Particular individuals like vets are usually in charge when incidents like these occur.
Animals that are kept at zoos from young are most likely not able to survive in the wild. This is due to the fact that animals have to learn from a very young age to adapt to their environment. Thus, they need to be taken care for their whole lives. According to Ms. Kristin, factors that make a zookeeper good are being adaptable and not being afraid of revolting work. You would have to pay close attention to the weather, animals and events. To check for any illnesses is not difficult, a sudden change in the animals can mean that something is not right, She mentioned that once you get attached to a certain animal, it would be hard to be separated from them. Also, time management is crucial as there are so many things to do in a day. When asked what animals children usually are most interested to see, she said exotic African animals such as elephants and giraffes.