Zoo keepers have one of the best jobs in the world – they get to play with animals every day, right? Well, not really! Most of a keeper’s day is spent cleaning, preparing food for their animals, checking the animals are healthy and happy, and keeping an eye out for any unusual behaviour that may mean an animal is not feeling very well. Here’s a typical ‘day in the life’ of one of our keepers. Keepers usually complete a two year course to become a zoo keeper which is a correspondence course, largely done in their own time.
Our team of keepers is divided into different sections, including Primates, Apes, Large Mammals, and Pets.
When our keepers arrive in the morning, the first thing they do is have a catch up with the rest of the team on their section. They can discuss any training that needs to be done that day, work that might be needed in enclosures, any animal transfers expected or any medical issues that need to be monitored. This way everyone knows what needs to be done that day, and where everyone will be.
The first job our keepers do is to clean every animal enclosure in their section. There are often two keepers on each section to make this job a little easier! Keepers will clear out old bedding, food, and animal poo from the indoor areas where our animals sleep, and replace it with fresh, clean bedding. This can take a long time but it is important to make sure that our animal enclosures are nice and clean. As anyone with animals at home will know, this is often a thankless task as once the animals are back in their beds it won’t be long before it’s a mess again! This is why we clean every day!
Cleaning the enclosures can often take most of the morning. After a quick cuppa, our keepers move on to getting all the animal’s diets ready.
Each of our animals has a diet plan tailored to them, to make sure they’re getting all the nutrients they need. Keepers will chop and prepare fruit, vegetables, meat, and special concentrated diet made up of pellets for our animals. Pellets are a high protein food source which come in different varieties tailored for different species. You may spot notice the pellet cakes in many of our enclosures along with fresh fruit and vegetables.
Once the diets are ready, our keepers can spend the afternoon doing a variety of different jobs. This can include making enrichment for their animals, maintaining and improving enclosures, working with our training and veterinary teams to administer medicine to poorly animals, helping with animal transfers, and helping with the setting up of new enclosures.
Our keepers are extremely knowledgeable about the species they work with, and are busy outside the zoo, visiting local schools, colleges and universities to give talks on their species all around the world.