Tuesday, November 29
Hello from the Mammal Department! I hope that everyone had a fun and safe holiday last week. Although the Zoo was closed for Thanksgiving Day, many keepers reported to work bright and early at 7 a.m. to take care of the Zoo’s animal residents. Personally, holidays are some of my favorite days to work. While you still have a similar list of tasks to get done (cleaning, feeding, enrichment, etc.), your time is slightly less restricted and you can spend more time interacting with the animals. It is also a great time to get those extra projects done that you seem to run out of time to complete during a normal day.
Last year, I worked both Thanksgiving and Christmas and spent my time with the animals down in the Outback Station barn. After I had all of my tasks done for the day, the goats and I played a good game of tag. A good majority of the animals are under 3 years old and can be extremely playful. I also had a lot of extra time to get in all of the goat snuggles that my work can sometimes keep me from getting to on a normal day. (Let’s be honest though, nobody can ever really get enough goat snuggles.)
Now that I am a Swing Keeper and training in various mammal areas, I had the opportunity to spend this Thanksgiving with the elephants, warthogs and meerkats! The day started off with a holiday music singalong with the warthogs. I know what you’re thinking, “holiday music before Thanksgiving?!” In my defense it was technically on Thanksgiving, not before Thanksgiving, and Eleanor and Shirley didn’t seem to mind. After my coworker Courtney and I had finished, we headed over for a fun day with the elephants. This most definitely included more singing and some fun enrichment as well as all of our normal keeper duties. Holidays also give us even more extra time to spend observing the animals once they are out in their habitats. It’s great to see what the animals are up to when they don’t think their keepers are around!
Luckily, zookeepers work in a field where every day, including big holidays, are exciting days to come to work. Routine can be exhausting, and the poop piles might never seem to end, but I can’t think of many other fun ways to spend a holiday than with the amazing animals at Zoo Atlanta. Also, if you hear any subpar singing coming from behind one of the animal habitats, I apologize in advance. That’s definitely not just a holiday thing for me. It counts as animal enrichment, right?
Swing Keeper, Mammals