Anonymous asked: What is an average day at your job like? What responsibilities do you have, and what are the most enjoyable and least enjoyable parts of your work day? What is the average pay of a keeper?
The Average Day/My Basic Responsibilities
The cool thing about working with animals is that there’s no such thing as an average day. You do have your basic routine that doesn’t change much - animals need to be fed every day, holdings and exhibits need to be cleaned every day, etc., and that stuff stays pretty much the same. But there are forks thrown into the proverbial blender ALL THE TIME, and there’s always something new or different going on in addition to all the normal stuff.
So to simplify, my absolute basic responsibilities are:
1. To keep the animals healthy, safe, fed, mentally and physically engaged (as appropriate to the species), and generally content with all of their needs met.
2. To put the animals onto their exhibits in the morning and take them off again at night.
3. To keep my work space - including both animal holdings, animal exhibits, and service areas - clean, safe, and organized.
4. To keep written records about the animals and verbally communicate any issues to supervisors and/or vet staff.
So those are the basic things that I do every single day no matter what.
But some things don’t happen every day, or even very often. A list of potential things that could happen at any time, transforming an otherwise routine workday into something a bit more complicated:
1. An animal gets sick or injured
2. An animal needs to be physically or chemically restrained for an examination
3. Something in an exhibit breaks or needs routine maintenance (anything from mowing the grass to moving in truckloads of sand to repairing a fence)
4. Giving talks/demos to the public
5. Working on training a new behavior
6. Building something from scratch (enrichment, furniture, etc.)
7. Deep cleaning (power washing, disinfecting, etc.)
And there are so many more that I can’t think of right now. Animals are a constant surprise - you really never have the same day twice.
The Most Enjoyable Parts of My Workday
Interacting with the animals. Giving them enrichment that I can tell they really enjoy. Having a really amazing training session. Those unexpected moments when they make me laugh and brighten my day, and I’m just struck by what a privilege it is to know them.
The Least Enjoyable Parts of My Workday
Sometimes cleaning sucks. There are the zen times, when you’re hosing and you can just zone out and be alone with your thoughts - that’s relaxing. But every keeper has that list of a few things that they absolutely HATE to clean.
It can also be rough when the animals won’t cooperate. Like, come on guys… I love ya but… I don’t really want to stay 40 minutes past clock-out while you take your sweet time coming off exhibit.
Average Keeper Pay
Low. I refer you to this post.