Keeper Stories – Tuesday, January 24
A keeper’s job is never done. There is always a chore to complete or a project to work on. Our daily routine is full of jobs like cleaning habitats, preparing diets, observing our animals, providing enrichment…are you tired yet? In between all of this, we try to find time to develop ourselves professionally. There are many ways in which keepers can continue their education or grow their specialized skills. Despite the variety of opportunities, usually there is a common obstacle for each person to overcome. Funds!
There are many reasons I love working at Zoo Atlanta. Let’s be honest, getting to work with exotic wildlife on a daily basis is reason enough to find happiness here. What really sticks out to me is that Zoo Atlanta tries their hardest to provide as many opportunities as possible to all of their employees. Whether it’s via a financial or other means of support, the Zoo wants to make sure its staff is the best in the country. Sometimes, financially even that is not enough. Cue very generous donors like a very special supporter of ours, whose generosity has enabled keepers to venture out on opportunities once thought too expensive to be feasible.
You might ask how keepers use these funds. One of the more common requests are for registration fees for conferences such AZA or AAZK. These are great networking functions where keepers from different zoos can learn from each other. Cross-training with another zoo is something that can be very valuable. Donors like the Zoo friend I mentioned help pay for travel expenses across the country so keepers can learn new practices from other facilities. You might even see requests for things like public speaking seminars. Yes, even keepers can benefit from honing skills such as these.
To benefit from this gift, keepers must submit applications explaining what their opportunity is to our managers. Included are justifications for not only how this opportunity will benefit the keeper’s development but also what resources will the individual be able to bring back to the Zoo. It is a highly competitive process and not everyone receives their requests. Still this does not change our gratitude for even just a chance at financial support for our career aspirations. To Zoo Atlanta and, especially, to this very special friend of the Zoo, we thank you!
Keeper II, Birds