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We’re all in this together

Regardless of your feelings about COVID-19, it’s hard to argue that your daily life hasn’t been impacted in some way by it. For many of us, the impact has been very challenging, and has required adaptations from all of us. Zoo Atlanta was closed from March 15 until May 16. The Zoo was empty for what seemed like an eternity. As keepers, we shifted our schedules and routines to ensure that regardless, animal care never missed a beat. We had to change how we interacted with some of the animals. And on top of all that, we could not connect our animals to our guests. I felt this very personally, as those connections are a major part of what I feel to be my purpose at the Zoo.

Fortunately, the closure did not last forever. We re-opened with new guidelines and parameters to keep guests, animals, and keepers safe. This was still hard on many of us. The stresses of life with the “new normal,” compounded with your passion being in the balance, can weigh extremely heavy on every part of you. I could not have imagined having to handle that on my own. But thankfully, I don’t have to.

The animal care teams here care not only about the animals, but about each other. We are constantly discussing how to make life easier. One thing that came from that was trying something new for keepers to experience. See, what many people do not realize is that we are divided into departments, and we typically only work with animals within that department. When we get the chance to interact with animals from different areas, we are just as amazed and excited as that guest feeding an elephant for the first time or scratching an Aldabra tortoise’s neck. So, the departments have opened their doors to their fellow keepers. We have created experiences just for us across nearly the entire Zoo. From meet and greets to feedings, this is just a time for us take a minute to sit back and enjoy what we do, to talk to our teammates, to remind ourselves to remember that what we do matters, it always will, and together we lift each other up and weather through any storm. 

Justin E.
Lead Keeper, Ambassador Animals

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl