We’re celebrating National Zoo Keeper Week when we say a huge Thank You to our fabulous team for not only their passion for animal welfare and conservation but also their tireless efforts to create a better future for wildlife.
Zoo keeping is a much-sought after profession, but it’s not for the faint-hearted and forget the glamour, it’s hard, physical and tiring work!
Acting Ungulates Team Leader, Laura Robbins has worked at DZC as a keeper for the past 16 years and says working with some of the world’s rarest animals is still her dream job.
We follow Laura as she takes us through a typical day…
I clock in and head up the hill to my section. I’m the Acting Team Leader of Ungulates, which consists of the site’s hoofstock – giraffes, tapirs, Barbary Sheep and reindeer. It also includes wallabies, red panda, capybara, otters, meerkats and mara. We also care for 21 species in the Reptile House, including Dwarf crocodiles, snakes, tortoises, turtles and lizards.
My first job of the day is to check all the animals on section.
I record temperatures and humidity levels in the Reptile House and giraffe house and then look at staff rotas.
We have a team of nine keepers and four different areas to cover on section, so I double-check who’s down to do what.
Depending on the day, I also note if we have any keeper for a day experiences or animal meet and greets so we can plan the next few hours.
Everyone is in and the cleaning regime starts. This task takes all morning, especially if you’re working on giraffes when it could take even longer. It involves mucking out all of the enclosures, scrubbing them clean, emptying out and cleaning food and water bowls and replacing everything with fresh.
Today we have a giraffe meet and greet with visitors, which involves us introducing them to our three giraffes. We talk about the animals and the species in general and they get the opportunity to feed them.
We begin prepping fresh food for the animals. Each species has its own diet sheet and the food is carefully sorted and prepared.
Before lunch, today we’re taking photographs with our Brazilian tapirs, Chico and Meena for the zoo’s social media pages.
The afternoons vary day-to-day.
The vet may be on site to see a poorly animal, we could be redesigning a new reptile enclosure, carrying out animal training, raking the reindeer paddock, painting a fence, making animal enrichment, doing paperwork or updating animal records online.
We start the evening routine and make sure all the animals are safely tucked up for the night.
We clean all the viewing windows on section and get the equipment out ready to start cleaning again tomorrow before we all meet up and clock out at 6pm.