Wildlife Safari celebrates their highly trained keepers for National Zoo Keeper Appreciation Week as they tell us what it means to be a zoo keeper to them.
“As a kid, I always loved learning about animals. I would watch documentaries and memorize facts to share with my family and friends.” Sam Clark, a keeper in the Safari Village, tells us why she works as a keeper. “Aside from enjoying being around animals, I also enjoy teaching people about them and the places they live.”
Zoos can play a big role in many families’ lives, being a nice retreat to learn about animals and taking them a step closer to nature. As children, elephant keeper Gabby McGee and carnivore keeper Sara Wheaton both would visit zoos with their families, which helped shape them into the keepers they are today. “I came to Wildlife Safari as a child and knew that I wanted to work with animals,” says Wheaton.
Amanda Alyea, an education specialist at Wildlife Safari mirrored those sentiments, “every day with the animals makes it worth it, I especially love getting people to consider the classic ‘scary’ animals in a new light. It’s great getting people to touch a snake or cockroach and consider all of the good they do for the environment.”
McGee, who has loved elephants since childhood, “was told to apply for the elephant internship at Wildlife Safari because they have a great elephant program.”
Now she gets the chance to work with her favorite animal, George, the Elephant.
Keepers at Wildlife Safari love being there for their animals and do all they can to help others learn about the importance of animal conservation. They work tirelessly to maintain the animal’s homes, while also doing what they can to help educate the world on the importance of these animals in the wild.
“I wanted to work with animals and keep them happy and healthy.” Lead ungulate keeper Allison Trout knows the importance of her job and wanted “to get to know their personalities and teach people about the plight of their wild counterparts. I wanted to play an active role in conservation.”
The chance to meet an animal ambassador helps families to learn about these beautiful animals and better understand the need to help them in the wild, in a fun, engaging way.
“I’m a real life testament to how powerful elephant ambassadors can be in inspiring people to care about these unique and special animals,” McGee says, “and I want to share that with guests that come to the zoo.”
The world needs keepers and educators like those at Wildlife Safari. With as hard as they work, there will always be more to be done. If it were for these amazing people, magical places like Wildlife Safari wouldn’t exist, and they are greatly appreciated for all that they do.
Thank you to all the zoo keepers that call Wildlife Safari home!