Keeper Profile, Kayla in Birds

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.

Kayla Hanada

What area do you work?
I am one of the primary bird keepers.

How did you become a keeper? Did you get a degree? Did you volunteer or intern. etc?
I got my degree in environmental science, technology, and policy from CSUMB (Go Otters!). I also volunteered and interned at the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a couple of years in the temporary river otter exhibit, and then in the aviculture department.

How long have you worked at the Sacramento Zoo?
It has been a little over a year now.

When did you know that you wanted to be a zookeeper?
I had always known I wanted to work with animals, but I was never quite sure how until I became a volunteer at the aquarium. Then I really understood that I wanted to work in the animal care field.

What is your favorite part of the job?
I think my favorite part of the job is getting to work so closely with exotic animals. I love handing our keel-billed toucan her medication in the morning, or trying to station train our lady ross’ turaco. I also love being involved in incubating eggs and hand-raising chicks. It is such a fascinating process.

If you were starting a new zoo, which animal would you choose first to put in it? (Can be based on your favorite or conservation need)
I really enjoy all of our hornbill species because they are very intelligent. Visitors have a great time watching them get enrichment. I would also add himalayan monal pheasants and keel-billed toucans. If I had to pick a non-bird species, I would put in southern tamanduas (the one at the zoo is one of my favorite animals here!), mongoose lemurs, leaf-tailed geckos, or yellow-backed duikers.

What advice would you give someone who wants to be a zoo keeper?
My advice would be to get as much experience as you can. Volunteering at a facility with animals is always a good way to figure out what animal care staff does on a daily basis. It also gives you a chance to talk to the people that work there and learn as much as you can. Also, never give up! If you want to volunteer at a facility and don’t get it the first time, keep trying. It might take a while, but if it is something you are really passionate about, it is totally worth it once you start.

Tell us something interesting about one of the animals in your area. It can be factual or a personality quirk.
Although we have many ducks on the lake, most of them do not quack! Two species we have, White-faced whistling ducks and Fulvous whistling ducks, whistle instead of quack. It sounds like a cute squeaky toy when they whistle.

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