Learn more about the talented and dedicated individuals that take care of the zoo animals in our newest installment of the Keeper Profiles series. Missed the first ones? Check out all the past blogs here.
What area do you work?
What is your favorite part about the job?
I would say that my favorite part of my job is training or operant conditioning. Not only is it rewarding to have a personal interaction with the animals I work with (behind mesh) but I have seen firsthand what a huge impact training animals to get on scales or show their feet can have on their well being.
What is your favorite animal and why?
That’s like asking a parent which child is their favorite! I love them all and for many different reasons. The ones that have had a big impact on me as a keeper are our hyena, otters, pandas and our newest tiger cub. They have all taught me so much.
How long have you worked at the Sacramento Zoo?
I started as a volunteer and have been working as a full time staff member for 5 years!
What would you tell someone who wants to be a zookeeper?
Don’t be afraid of hard work because the little things make our job so worth it! Education is very important as is experience. I highly recommend volunteering at your local wildlife rehabilitation facility, zoo, or any other animal related facility that could use the help and give you the experience. It is a competitive field but don’t give up. Hard work pays off!
When did you know that you wanted to be a zookeeper?
Well I told everyone I wanted to be a zookeeper when I was 3, but it wasn’t until my second year of college that I realized it was the only career that would make me happy.
Why is your job important?
I believe my job is important for many reasons. The animals we work with are here to be ambassadors for their species and help the public connect with the world around us. Our job is to help educate the public on conservation issues and how they can help preserve habitat for their wild relatives. My job specifically is important because I am responsible for making the animals lives as good as they possibly can be. Whether that be making them comfortable when being treated for a medical issue or being creative and coming up with new toys and enrichment items.
Tell me something interesting about one of the animals you work with. It can be something factual or a personality quirk.
One of the most interesting things I have found in personalities is the food preferences between cats. As treats the cats (and hyena) will get mice or fish a couple of times a month. We have learned that the lions LOVE fish and the tigers LOVE mice. They however, do not like the opposite. You will get evil looks from both species if you mess up.