This week we celebrate zoo keepers (or zookeepers). I didn’t really know what they do (except that they work with animals) before I started doing research for this. It reminded me of my profession, which is that of librarian. Outside the field, people have the idea that being a librarian means getting to read all day, which is about the last thing we have time for. Likewise, people have the idea that being a zookeeper means getting to hug animals all day. The reality is quite different.
In a blog entitled “Why Being a Zookeeper Isn’t Always a Dream Job,” Ms. Host talks about some of the harder aspects of her job. The first is that animals die, despite how well you take care of them. And the following paragraph, which I quote in full: “Frogs require wearing special gloves to prevent us contaminating them with a deadly fungus. Elephants can drop about 150 lbs of manure each, PER DAY. Some animals eat a thin slurry that gets everywhere and dries to the consistency of cement and has to be scrubbed off each and every morning. Antelope poo comes out in little balls that range from sunflower seed size to chocolate covered cashew size, and we have to rake it all up. Bales of hay weigh over a 100 pounds, and yes, we do have to move them on our own. We cut thick branches off of trees we farm for the purpose of feeding. We clean dishes, we sweep floors, we dust, we mop, we empty the trash. We have to work in weather that reaches below freezing and over 100 degrees, in the full sun, in the rain, on holidays, on weekends, early in the morning and late, late at night. Some animals can kill you. Some animals can make you very sick. Some animals can cripple you for life.” This is a job done by people who really love animals. It’s good there are such people, though I am definitely not one of them!
I also realize that zoos are controversial, in that many feel animals should be left in the wild. I offer no opinion except to say that when I do visit a zoo, I want it to be one where the animals have a large enclosure and places to hide from prying human eyes.
Quotes about zoos
I am personally not against keeping animals at zoos, as they serve a huge educational purpose, but treating them well and with respect seems the least we could do, and with ‘we’ I mean not just zoo staff, but most certainly also the public.–Frans de Waal
Zoo animals are ambassadors for their cousins in the wild.–Jack Hanna
I love to go to the zoo. But not on Sunday. I don’t like to see the people making fun of the animals, when it should be the other way around.–Ernest Hemingway
Though not a natural world by any means, more like a collection of living dioramas, a zoo exists in its own time zone, somewhere between the seasonal sense of animals and our madly ticking watch time.–Diane Ackerman
Even if you can’t afford to travel the world, you can take your children to the museum, zoo or local park.–Kimora Lee Simmons
I love acting, but it’s much more fun taking the kids to the zoo.–Nicole Kidman
Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo.–Paul Simon
Zoos have always fascinated me. What child hasn’t wondered what would happen if all the animals escaped from the zoo? Or what would happen if they got caught in an enclosure?–Matthew Reilly
I love zoo sanctuaries.–Nancy Travis
What’s the reality of being inside a zoo, for the animals and for the people who love and care for those animals? There’s a lot of joy, and there’s a lot of loss.–Thomas French
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