cheetah walkThe Houston Zoo employs more than 150 Zoo keepers who passionately care for the animals at the Zoo. This week, we’re celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week and we’ll be posting daily keeper spotlights right here on the Zoo Blog. From designing enrichment programs and overseeing medical care to cleaning exhibits and implementing positive reinforcement training, our keepers do everything it takes 365 days a year to care for our animals.

At the Houston Zoo, our keepers have a variety of backgrounds and interests and we hope you’ll enjoy getting to know a few of them all-week-long. You’ll also learn a little about their daily routine, including some tasks you might not know a keeper does. For instance, did you know that every day the elephant keepers use a giant tractor called a skid steer to help them scoop 2,000 pounds of poop out of the elephant yard? And that’s just from overnight! Also, the Zoo employs seven keepers whose sole job is preparing all the food for our animals. Each day this crew arrives at 4 a.m. to chop, bake and wash all the food for the Zoo. They even chop 25 pounds of salad mix every day just to satisfy the growing appetites of the endangered Attwater’s prairie chicks.

Our keepers even provide round-the-clock care for the animals in extreme circumstances. If a hurricane is barreling toward Houston, keepers are an essential part of the Zoo’s ride-out team who ‘ride out’ the storm at the Zoo to keep the animals safe. Keepers also stay close-by 24/7 waiting to assist in the delivery when a giraffe is preparing to give birth. And if keepers have to hand-raise an animal, they share overnight duty to make sure the newborns are fed and monitored.

It takes a lot of hard work and an equal amount of passion to be a Zoo keeper. Next time you’re at the Houston Zoo, help us say “thank you” for all that they do.

National Zoo Keeper Week is celebrated each year beginning on the third Sunday in July. During the week, zoos nationwide honor animal care professionals and the work they do in animal care, conservation, and education. There are approximately 6,000 animal care professionals in the United States.

 

 

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