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"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

ZooLand, part 4: The Zookeeper's Job

File:Baby elephant and zoo keeper -Maryland Zoo-8a.jpg
photo source
A zookeeper is responsible for many things:

  • feed the animals
  • clean the animals
  • prepare the animal's food
  • observe the animals
  • clean the animal's cages, and maintain the cages
  • provide enrichment for the animals
  • conduct research
  • provide public education
  • keep records
This is not to say that the zookeeper actually does each of these jobs each day, but he does make sure that each of these jobs gets done.

Feeding the Animals

When the zookeeper prepares the animal's food, they weigh it carefully so that they can keep track of the animal's weight to ensure the animal is healthy. They also add supplements, vitamins and medicine, as needed, to the food. They write all this down on a nutrition-diet log. 

Keeping the Cages Clean

Zookeepers have to clean the animal's cages every day by spraying the cages with disinfectant, scrub them with a broom that is similar to a scrub brush and then mop them dry. 

Observing the Animals

Zookeepers oversee the births of new animals and pay special attention to the young animals, making sure they have no injuries. They observe every animal that is under their care every day, making sure that all the animals are getting along, checking to see that the animals are healthy and well and conducting various types of research. They keep a record of all their observations. If an animal is not well, it's their job to report it to the veterinarian and then they work hand-in-hand to provide proper medical care.

Providing Enrichment for the Animals

Zookeepers make sure that their animals are entertained. They add fun things to the exhibits such as logs, balls, ice floats, swings, tires, mirrors and rags. They also come up with improvements for the cages to make them more realistic or entertaining for the animals and for the spectators. They also train the animals so that they can be handled easier. For example, a keeper can train a Rhino to go to a cleaning station so that it will be easier to care for the animal.

Providing Public Education

Zookeepers have to provide the public with information about the animals either through shows or just through their daily work and routines. They answer questions the public might have about the animals, tell of personal experiences with the animals and inform the public about how to responsibly behave towards the animals. Depending on the layout of the zoo and the zoo's size, the zookeeper may be responsible for several different types of animals, one group of animals (such as big cats) or a whole landscape of animals (such as jungle). Luckily a zookeeper is rarely, if ever, assigned to any animal alone.

The Zookeeper Exam

Now it is time to give your students a test in order to become 
zookeepers for Zooland. Make your own multiple-choice exam, gearing it to the level of your students. Once they pass, you can reward them with Zooland ID cards, complete with their photos and signatures.

Sometimes you can arrange a field trip to see a zookeeper's routines personally. 

As with each lesson, have your students pick another animal to study. As before, have them organize the information they learn to make a sign for the animal's cage. They then need to research the habitat needed for this animal. What other animals live in this type of habitat? This might lead to the next animal study.

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5 comments:

  1. This is a lesson we definitely need to do! Awhile back we read the book Z is for ZooKeeper this work would be great to extend the learning. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. I've never thought about doing anything on a zookeeper. Interesting....:)

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  3. Now I want to try and interview the zookeeper at one of the nearby zoos.......

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  4. What a great idea, Phyllis. I love reading everything you blog - it's so consistently inspiring (as are you), that I've never managed to decide which of your posts to comment on. So I thought I'd start here! Thank you for taking the time to share the wonderful things you do, especially with all you're going through. I appreciate it!
    Lucinda

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a kind comment. I am glad you like what we do...feel free to use what you would like!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means so much.