Thursday, September 15
It takes a lot of supplies to keep an animal department at Zoo Atlanta running. This is especially true for a department as large as Birds and Programs Animals. Keepers need to have a ready supply of tools and materials on hand to accomplish everyday tasks. Now, you might be asking yourself, don’t you have others in the Zoo who provide these items? We do have other great departments who provide support to the animal side of things. For example, our Maintenance Department handles everything from leaky faucets to renovating habitats. However, they stay very busy trying to keep all the Zoo’s facilities in peak condition. Whenever possible, we as a department try to tackle our own smaller tasks. To do, that we periodically have to make runs to the local home improvement store.
These shopping trips can often be handled by one or two people. There are times such as recently where we have to utilize almost the entire department. This way, we can wrap a several hour journey in less than half the time. What do keepers need from the store? It can range from brooms to construction lumber. There is always cleaning that needs to be done whether in animal habitats, around Wieland Wildlife Home, or at the World of Wild Theater. Scrub brushes, magic erasers and squeegees are often on the docket to pick up.
We spend quite a bit of time in the gardening section for these trips. You can never have enough mulch in our department, and this latest trip was no exception. Loading and unloading 40+ bags of mulch is quite the workout. We use it as substrate for our animals such as the tortoises to dig through or just to make our habitats even more engaging. Packaged moss is also purchased regularly. Bird keepers may offer moss as nesting material, while program animal keepers soak the moss as a humidity source for our reptiles.
And then there is the lumber. If you thought the hard work was done after the mulch, think again. Whether it’s 2x2s, 2x4s, or sheets of plywood, we always seem to need quite a bit of this material at each shopping trip. Both sides of the department will use it for projects like building nest boxes, hides, or other shelters. Many more items are purchased and used than I have time to share. One thing is for sure: We try to make use of every scrap of material we purchase. Hopefully this has given you a little perspective on what a shopping trip looks like for a zookeeper.
Keeper II, Birds and Program Animals