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Thursday, October 20

Most people come to zoos to see our diverse animals, but have you ever thought about what goes on behind-the-scenes?

For one, you have the keeper staff that directly care for the animals rain or shine, snow or sleet, holiday or not. We are the ones that get the habitats clean and ready for our guests to see the animals in a beautiful setting.  We pick up the poop, refill the waters, refresh the hay, or put their food out in their habitats so that by the time the Zoo opens, the animals are out and ready to awe the guests. Then we move into the inside areas so when the animals come in at night, they have a clean space to sleep in with fresh water, hay and food.

But also, you have the animal nutrition staff.  Without them and their hard work, we wouldn’t have any diets to give to our animals.  They are busy prepping and delivering the diets that they have prepared the day before.  There’s a lot of meat, veggies, hay and grain that pass through those doors to come to all of the animal areas. We love those guys and girls! As part of the animal nutrition staff, you also have the bamboo technicians.  They are a mysterious crew since we hardly ever see them, but we can count on them for bamboo delivery every day. The keepers that take care of the animals that get bamboo appreciate them, we know that much!

And then you have the horticulture staff. These are the people that maintain the natural beauty of the Zoo.  Just a few of their jobs include trimming back bushes so you can see animals more clearly, taking care of tree issues, and planting beautiful flowers and plants in the springtime, as well as delivering browse to the animal areas.  They are the ones I wish would come to my house to make my (lack of) landscaping amazing. Alas, I don’t have a green thumb, but they certainly do!  It’s always a pleasure to see the horticulture crew with smiles on their faces.

Also, you have the grounds crew who go around and pick up whatever trash is left in the Zoo from the day before, as well as sweep the walkways in the mornings before guests arrive, so it’s the cleanest experience you can have. You can see them roaming around during the day and emptying trash cans, picking up stray debris, and trying to keep things neat and tidy. We can’t thank them enough!

Lastly, the maintenance guys. You can’t forget the maintenance guys.  They care for our habitats, back-areas, new installations, old ‘stuff’ replacements, etc.  They are the busiest people in the Zoo, I’m pretty sure! Without them, our fences might not be as sturdy as they need to be, our heating units might not be up to par, our train might not be running, our bathrooms might be overflowing … the list goes on and on.  We have so much appreciation for those guys!

So next time you visit the Zoo, take a moment to look around you at the grounds, at the landscaping, at the habitats and at the animals, and just remember there is so much care and concern and attention that goes into building a wonderful experience for our animals, as well as for you, our guests!
Kim Morrell
Keeper III, Mammals 

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl