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A day in the life of a Carnivore Keeper

Greetings from the Carnivore Team! One of the things that we miss most during these new, strange times is getting to spend as much time as we used to with you, our guests. We are continuously working to find ways to bring back unique experiences, give you the VIP treatment, and let you see a little bit of what is going on behind the scenes. As these opportunities become available, we hope that you take the opportunity to join us.

In the meantime, since we are not able to currently host our Keeper for a Day program, let me share with you a little bit of what a day in the life of a Carnivore Keeper is like. The giant panda routine is also part of the Carnivore Team; however, this update will focus specifically on the “meat-eating” area. 

We usually have two keeper shifts per day. We have a group of team members who are “openers” and get to work very early, and then we have the “closers,” who come in later and close up the areas at the end of the day. The openers have a short meeting in the morning to go over any changes, plans for the day, or any other updates that need to be shared. Then they divide up who will be working in which area for the rest of the morning. This team is responsible for the lions, clouded leopard, tigers, sun bears, giant otters, tanuki, binturongs, and fossa. As you can imagine, there is a lot of work to do to get everyone ready for you to arrive to the Zoo. Once the closers come in a few hours later, they check in with the openers and then go wherever more help is needed.

Part of what makes the Carnivore Team work so well is the fluidity and teamwork that is displayed by every team member. To maintain our high standards of welfare and safety, our team members must work together to get everything ready for the day. Part of each routine involves helping the other routines to do safety checks and some shifting. While very busy, it is a fun way to be involved in many areas in the morning.

The rest of the day pretty much looks like this:

⦁ Check on all animals right away.
⦁ Habitat prep: clean, perform safety checks, provided any added bedding or enrichment, clean pools.
⦁ Provide animals with any necessary medications and morning diets.
⦁ Participate in positive reinforcement training with the animals.
⦁ Help team members with safety checks and shifting.
⦁ Shift animals onto their habitats and then start cleaning their buildings and preparing the rest of the diets for the day. Check on the animals.
⦁ Lunch
⦁ Provide afternoon enrichment, feeding, training.
⦁ Perform extra projects or attend meetings.
⦁ Paperwork (Daily Reports, training logs, enrichment logs, behavior profiles if monitoring specific behaviors).
⦁ Prepare enrichment for animals to receive at closing. Prep indoor areas for animals to have access to in the evening.
⦁ Feed animals dinner and give p.m. medications if any are necessary.
⦁ Final safety check of all areas.
⦁ Say goodnight to everyone and wish them sweet dreams.
⦁ Final check in with coworkers in the office and make final notes in records.
⦁ Sign off with the Curator on Duty that all is secure and head home to get a good night’s sleep so we can wake up early to see all of these beautiful furry faces again.

I hope that was an interesting little insight into what our daily work life is like. I know I am a little biased, but it is the best job ever! Thanks again for coming to visit in person if you can, but if you can’t, be on the lookout for other opportunities to join us virtually!

Jenny E.
Lead Keeper, Carnivores

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