Hello from the herd!
Hi everyone, Ashley here! Spring has sprung, and I’m going to tell you all about how we work with the herd of Petting Zoo animals during our busy season. I am an Ambassador Animal Keeper in this area, so I get to work with all the goats and sheep down in the Children’s Zoo. If you’ve ever visited Zoo Atlanta, then you’ll know that our Petting Zoo is quite the happening spot! We stay busy, and I often get asked if the goats and sheep ever grow tired of being touched and petted, which is a wonderful question. It is very important that as their care team, we pay close attention to the behavioral patterns and changes in the animals. This way, we can tell if the animals are getting anxious, annoyed, or overwhelmed by visitors in the Petting Zoo. Generally, all the goats and sheep are great in this environment and seem to really enjoy the attention they receive from guests. They have all grown up in that environment and we socialize them to people when they are young.
If we do see an animal exhibiting anxious or frustrated behavior, there are many things we can do to ensure positive well-being for that animal. We will sometimes just stay by that individual because the proximity of familiar keepers can be comforting. We can also bring out fresh food for them to focus on or bring them into our night yard for a short break.
Choice and control are very important for all animals. One thing we do that allows the animals constant choice and control is opening our quiet time zone. We block off certain sections of the animals’ indoor stalls so that only they can go in and guests cannot. This allows them to freely go in and out on their own and take breaks from being touched if they would like to. Now that the weather is warm, and the sun is shining, make sure to come visit me and all my goat and sheep friends!
Keeper I, Ambassador Animals