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Keeper Stories – Tuesday, January 17

Did you survive the snow-pocalypse 2.0? It wasn’t as bad as the first go round, but we still had enough ice that the Zoo was closed. But what actually happens when the Zoo closes down for bad weather like a snowstorm? It is not all that different from a normal day for us keepers. The biggest issue is making sure that we can get enough keepers into work safely. This past snowstorm, since I live close to the Zoo, I came in to help out on my day off.

Once we have all the keepers here, we just go to work almost like usual. I say “almost like usual” because while we are doing all the essential things that need to be done for the animals, like feeding, giving any medications, and cleaning, a day like this is not a day where we do projects or extra training with the animals. Now since the temperature was in the teens during the storm, it was way too cold for the animals to go out, so we had to clean with animals inside! Cleaning with animals inside can be something that is very easy or something that can be quite challenging; it really all comes down to how cooperative the animals want to be that day. Once I am done with my cleaning, I check on the other primate areas to make sure they are doing okay and see if they need any extra help. It usually takes until about Noon for everyone to finish. Since the Zoo was closed, most of us were allowed to go home for the day. One person for each area has to come back to feed and give any medications again in the p.m.

If you are asking yourself, “What do the animals do all afternoon while you are gone?” or “What if something happens to the animals while you are gone?”, don’t worry, we have it covered! On days like these we always give our animals extra enrichment so they have something engaging them while we are gone for the afternoon. Whoever comes in to close will also give them some enrichment so they continue to have stimulating activities through the night. As for the second question, the Zoo always has someone from the animal care staff and from the veterinary staff stay the entire day.

So next time we have a big snowstorm come through Atlanta, you can tell all your friends what happens at the Zoo while everyone else is gathered around a fire or building a snowman!
Sonny Christopher
Keeper I, Primates

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