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Re: [zookeeper] A day in the life of a Zookeeper

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  • Tim Junker
    In answer to the request of a day in the life of a zookeeper, I ll try to give an idea of what my duties are here in the Elephant department. Our area has a
    Message 1 of 12 , Aug 31, 2003
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      In answer to the request of a day in the life of a zookeeper, I'll try to give an idea of what my duties are here in the Elephant department.  Our area has a few different routines that the five of us alternate each week, but I'll just focus on the "Elephant" routine.  First, a little about the animals.  We have two female Asian elephants.  Both are wild caught and both over fifty (50).  Probably 52-55.  We operate in a protected contact (PC) management system (for those who don't know:  The keepers do not work with the elephants without a barrier between us and them for safety.  This is opposed to the free contact (FC) management system in which the keepers and elephants share the same space.  Both styles have pros and cons about them, but PC is simply safer for the keepers.  PC also tends to rely on asking the elephant to perform a behavior thru positive reinforcement, versus negative reinforcement for the same behavior in FC.  Not that positive reinforcement Isn't also heavily used in FC too.  I could probably go on and on about this, but it isn't really the point.  With our elephants, we use positive reinforcement and occasionally punishment in the form of "timeouts" when we remove our attention from these highly social animals.  Seems to work quite well).
       
      The day begins:  We clock in at 7:00am and head to the building.  We unlock the public area doors (we have indoor and outdoor viewing for the public), drop off our stuff (camera, homework, snacks, etc.), and put on our boots.  One goes to our Savanna area to help them get animals on exhibit by 9:00am.  The other two stick around to clean the elephant and hippos yards.  During the warmer months all the animals stay outside overnight.  We set up the morning diets of the elephants and bring them through the "hugger"/ERD (elephant restraint device) and into the stalls for breakfast.  ALWAYS two people working with the elephants just in case...  One person goes to bring in the 1.1 hippos for feeding while the "elephant" person begins cleaning the yard.  This entails draining the pool, rinsing the pool, scrubbing the pool with a bleach-like pool cleaner/soap, and rinsing the soap off.  Then this person grabs a wheelbarrow and scoops the poop.  Usually takes two full wheelbarrows.  As this is being done, they also check the yard for foreign objects and damage to "props".  Occasionally a log will get pushed into the pool and so they'd get the backhoe and pull it out.  This tends to take quite a bit of time though.  By now it is at least 9:00am.  Sometime before 9:00am, however, this person needs to bring inside the 1.1 maned wolves (located behind the building, public viewing from inside the building) for AM feeding.  Then go pick up poop in the yard, clean the pool as needed, check the fenceline for any escape tunnels that may get started, clean the public area windows on the yard side, and add enrichment. 
      Pedicures:  Around 9:30am the elephants are done eating and it is time for daily footcare.  Some zoos do it differently, but with the age of these girls we opt for one foot each day.  This results in an eight day rotation, that is, we'll get back to this foot in eight days.  (For those who don't know:  Foot care is necessary, particularly in Asian elephants, on a regular basis because they wear down their nails and pad more quickly in the wild than in captivity.  For that reason, we intervene and trim the nails and pads so that they don't become overgrown and cause abscesses or nail cracks.  This is not always successful.)  Unfortunately, one of the elephants, Susie, has had chronic abscesses that have come and gone for many years.  Currently she has four abscesses, though two are nearly healed up (we hope).  We spend a few minutes gathering necessary tools and rewards.  We wash off her front feet and soak them for 15 minutes in an Epsom salt bath.  Afterwards we treat her abscesses and then check her back feet for imbedded rocks or other foreign objects that find their way into the yard.  Next comes the 15 minute pedicure.  This may be on Susie or Mona depending on the day.  By now it is typically 11:00am, so we put Susie outside and exercise her for 15 minutes to help prevent further foot and joint problems.  Mona gets plenty of exercise from her unfortunate stereotypic pacing.  Then they go into the yard and we go to lunch.
      After lunch:  It's bath time!  Both elephants come inside (one at a time) for baths and Mona gets her feet checked for rocks and such.  This all tends to take about 30-40 minutes.  Both go back outside so that they may dust themselves off and scratch on the walls.  The keepers take this time to clean the elephant stalls.  There is usually a wheelbarrow full of poop inside as well.  We again, rinse, soap, and rinse to clean and then push away all the water with a squeegee.  It's not good to leave elephants standing on a wet ground, when possible.  This causes more foot problems.  Around 2:00pm the elephants come back inside to eat again.  One keeper goes outside to pick up any more poop (usually no more than two piles) and also puts out browse which another keeper has sought out, cut down, and brought back to the building.  This time is also spent cleaning the keeper work areas.  At about 3:45pm, the elephants are put back outside and the keepers clock out at 4:00pm and go home.
      Other tasks performed:  This was all an overview of one of the routines in the area.  Other duties we all must know and perform on occasion, if not daily, include:  Cleaning the hippo and rhino yards and stalls, cleaning the cheetah, bison, and camel yards, cleaning the cheetah and maned wolf holding areas, cutting grass in the cheetah, maned wolf and hippo yards, operating the backhoe, chainsaw, string trimmer, and hay shredder (Mona is missing two of her last set of teeth), treating the camel's jaw abscess, cutting the hippo's teeth, providing enrichment for all of the animals, cutting produce for treats, making up tomorrow's grain buckets, hauling dirt into and out of exhibits, seeking out and cutting down browse for the elephants, bison, and camels, keeping up with health and behavior records, writing up maintenance and supply requests, unclogging drains, repairing tools that break, washing dishes, attending meetings and classes, helping out another area or lending tools to another area, assisting vet when observing an animal, etc, etc, etc......
      But that's not all:  All of us also have work to do that we can't fit into the workday, and so we must bring it home.  Examples are: exhibit renovation plans, chute designs, schedule adjustments, training protocols, and various other proposals to better the care of the animals or look of the zoo.
      Wait a minute:  Those observant ones on the list may realize that I left out one of the more important things that a keeper (especially a PC elephant keeper) does with the animals --- training.  Unfortunately, at this point, we have to take care of all of this other crap first.  But I'm not bitter ;) 
       
      This does, however, bring me to a question to all of you current keepers.  One of my solutions to making more time in the day for keepers is to become salaried.  That way we are not a slave to the timeclock and the management who has a stick up their butt about it.  It would allow greater flexibility to stay an extra 15-30 minutes so that things such as training can be done and the keepers can go home feeling satisfied that those things that needed to get done in a day, actually did get done.  It would sure beat getting out frustrations on yahoogroups.  So how many zoos out there have salaried keepers rather than hourly?  I have heard that local or state government laws may have to get bypassed to allow this.  How might that be done?  I'd love some help here!
       
      Thanx
      Tim
    • nusilusi
      As an elephant keeper, why do you have so many responsabilities outside of your area? It could be incredibly difficult to become salaried, assuming you have no
      Message 2 of 12 , Sep 1, 2003
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        As an elephant keeper, why do you have so many responsabilities
        outside of your area?

        It could be incredibly difficult to become salaried, assuming you
        have no union. It might be easier to work 10 hour days with three
        days off, as is done in some zoos, or to even ask that another
        keeper be hired.

        Good luck!


        HH
      • Tim Junker
        As elephant keepers, we wonder that very thing. Zoo wide, all areas are understaffed even when fully staffed. I described my own area, but nearly every area
        Message 3 of 12 , Sep 1, 2003
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          As elephant keepers, we wonder that very thing.  Zoo wide, all areas are understaffed even when fully staffed.  I described my own area, but nearly every area is feeling the same stress to get things done with little luck.  The maned wolves, cheetahs, bison, and camels are all part of the Elephant department.  Cheetahs and elephants are pretty similar ;)  It is really all about the proximity of those exhibits to our building.  "Easier" for us to take care of them than the Predator or Hoofstock departments.  Money is, of course, tight so I doubt another keeper will be hired.  A part timer is possible, but it won't be anytime soon.  As for the 10 hour days, I would love to do that, but that would also require the hiring of at least one more keeper to fill in for the people on that third off day.  It's a grim situation at times.
          As for other advice to those of you considering becoming keepers, do it for the love of the job.  This isn't a field that pays well (in most cases), but if you love your job, then the money doesn't really matter.  You can always marry into money :)  I have only been in this job for two years and started out with a BS in Biology (minor in psychology helped too) and two years of experience in vet clinics.  There are zoos out there that are considered "teaching zoos" or "starter zoos".  This is where I am.  They hire people with little experience, usually straight out of college, and you learn everything you need to know on the job.  It really is a good way to start your career.  I should also add that if you aren't willing to do hard work, then pick another field.  I'm sitting here right now after a day of work and I haven't showered yet.  I have stains on my uniform from bleach, sweat, and dirt (maybe a little poop mixed in).  It is rare that I don't go through 40oz of water in the day to replenish all that I have being sweating.  I had a 6-7 yr. old kid ask me one day if my hair was soaking wet from the hose or sweat.  It wasn't the hose.  On the flip side, when it is 30 degrees outside, that exhibit still has to be cleaned.  When it is pouring down rain, that poop still has to be picked up.  I'm not trying to scare anyone out of this job if they really want it, though.  Actually if you really want it, this won't scare you.  We need as many good keepers as we can.  Especially if SSPs prove more and more successful, there will be more and more animals to care for.  Good luck to all you prospectives out there.
           
          Tim
           
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: nusilusi
          Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 1:51 PM
          Subject: [zookeeper] Re: A day in the life of a Zookeeper

          As an elephant keeper, why do you have so many responsabilities
          outside of your area?

          It could be incredibly difficult to become salaried, assuming you
          have no union. It might be easier to work 10 hour days with three
          days off, as is done in some zoos, or to even ask that another
          keeper be hired.

          Good luck!


          HH




          Sharing knowledge so that animals may benefit from better care.

          Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
        • sazkeeper
          This sounds pretty much similar to what I went through when I was working elephants last year (except we didn t care for hippos, but did care for a Safari
          Message 4 of 12 , Sep 2, 2003
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            This sounds pretty much similar to what I went through when I was
            working elephants last year (except we didn't care for hippos, but
            did care for a Safari exhibit and Cheetahs, and our baths take place
            in the morning.) Yep, pretty similar, right down to the chronic foot
            abcesses on one elephant and the no time for training. That's part
            of the reason I got out of elephants. (oh and we have two asian cows
            and one African, which adds a whole other level of stress - stubborn
            African...lol) I'll post sometime about my usual day as of right
            now. I've been a keeper for over five years now, and I've worked
            with just about everything...right now it's rhinos, kudu, addax and
            lions.

            Kameron

            --- In zookeeper@yahoogroups.com, "Tim Junker" <stimmy01@h...> wrote:
            > In answer to the request of a day in the life of a zookeeper, I'll
            try to give an idea of what my duties are here in the Elephant
            department. Our area has a few different routines that the five of
            us alternate each week, but I'll just focus on the "Elephant"
            routine. First, a little about the animals. We have two female
            Asian elephants. Both are wild caught and both over fifty (50).
            Probably 52-55. We operate in a protected contact (PC) management
            system (for those who don't know: The keepers do not work with the
            elephants without a barrier between us and them for safety. This is
            opposed to the free contact (FC) management system in which the
            keepers and elephants share the same space. Both styles have pros
            and cons about them, but PC is simply safer for the keepers. PC
            also tends to rely on asking the elephant to perform a behavior thru
            positive reinforcement, versus negative reinforcement for the same
            behavior in FC. Not that positive reinforcement Isn't also heavily
            used in FC too. I could probably go on and on about this, but it
            isn't really the point. With our elephants, we use positive
            reinforcement and occasionally punishment in the form of "timeouts"
            when we remove our attention from these highly social animals.
            Seems to work quite well).
            >
            > The day begins: We clock in at 7:00am and head to the building.
            We unlock the public area doors (we have indoor and outdoor viewing
            for the public), drop off our stuff (camera, homework, snacks,
            etc.), and put on our boots. One goes to our Savanna area to help
            them get animals on exhibit by 9:00am. The other two stick around
            to clean the elephant and hippos yards. During the warmer months
            all the animals stay outside overnight. We set up the morning diets
            of the elephants and bring them through the "hugger"/ERD (elephant
            restraint device) and into the stalls for breakfast. ALWAYS two
            people working with the elephants just in case... One person goes
            to bring in the 1.1 hippos for feeding while the "elephant" person
            begins cleaning the yard. This entails draining the pool, rinsing
            the pool, scrubbing the pool with a bleach-like pool cleaner/soap,
            and rinsing the soap off. Then this person grabs a wheelbarrow and
            scoops the poop. Usually takes two full wheelbarrows. As this is
            being done, they also check the yard for foreign objects and damage
            to "props". Occasionally a log will get pushed into the pool and so
            they'd get the backhoe and pull it out. This tends to take quite a
            bit of time though. By now it is at least 9:00am. Sometime before
            9:00am, however, this person needs to bring inside the 1.1 maned
            wolves (located behind the building, public viewing from inside the
            building) for AM feeding. Then go pick up poop in the yard, clean
            the pool as needed, check the fenceline for any escape tunnels that
            may get started, clean the public area windows on the yard side, and
            add enrichment.
            > Pedicures: Around 9:30am the elephants are done eating and it is
            time for daily footcare. Some zoos do it differently, but with the
            age of these girls we opt for one foot each day. This results in an
            eight day rotation, that is, we'll get back to this foot in eight
            days. (For those who don't know: Foot care is necessary,
            particularly in Asian elephants, on a regular basis because they
            wear down their nails and pad more quickly in the wild than in
            captivity. For that reason, we intervene and trim the nails and
            pads so that they don't become overgrown and cause abscesses or nail
            cracks. This is not always successful.) Unfortunately, one of the
            elephants, Susie, has had chronic abscesses that have come and gone
            for many years. Currently she has four abscesses, though two are
            nearly healed up (we hope). We spend a few minutes gathering
            necessary tools and rewards. We wash off her front feet and soak
            them for 15 minutes in an Epsom salt bath. Afterwards we treat her
            abscesses and then check her back feet for imbedded rocks or other
            foreign objects that find their way into the yard. Next comes the
            15 minute pedicure. This may be on Susie or Mona depending on the
            day. By now it is typically 11:00am, so we put Susie outside and
            exercise her for 15 minutes to help prevent further foot and joint
            problems. Mona gets plenty of exercise from her unfortunate
            stereotypic pacing. Then they go into the yard and we go to lunch.
            > After lunch: It's bath time! Both elephants come inside (one at
            a time) for baths and Mona gets her feet checked for rocks and
            such. This all tends to take about 30-40 minutes. Both go back
            outside so that they may dust themselves off and scratch on the
            walls. The keepers take this time to clean the elephant stalls.
            There is usually a wheelbarrow full of poop inside as well. We
            again, rinse, soap, and rinse to clean and then push away all the
            water with a squeegee. It's not good to leave elephants standing on
            a wet ground, when possible. This causes more foot problems.
            Around 2:00pm the elephants come back inside to eat again. One
            keeper goes outside to pick up any more poop (usually no more than
            two piles) and also puts out browse which another keeper has sought
            out, cut down, and brought back to the building. This time is also
            spent cleaning the keeper work areas. At about 3:45pm, the
            elephants are put back outside and the keepers clock out at 4:00pm
            and go home.
            > Other tasks performed: This was all an overview of one of the
            routines in the area. Other duties we all must know and perform on
            occasion, if not daily, include: Cleaning the hippo and rhino yards
            and stalls, cleaning the cheetah, bison, and camel yards, cleaning
            the cheetah and maned wolf holding areas, cutting grass in the
            cheetah, maned wolf and hippo yards, operating the backhoe,
            chainsaw, string trimmer, and hay shredder (Mona is missing two of
            her last set of teeth), treating the camel's jaw abscess, cutting
            the hippo's teeth, providing enrichment for all of the animals,
            cutting produce for treats, making up tomorrow's grain buckets,
            hauling dirt into and out of exhibits, seeking out and cutting down
            browse for the elephants, bison, and camels, keeping up with health
            and behavior records, writing up maintenance and supply requests,
            unclogging drains, repairing tools that break, washing dishes,
            attending meetings and classes, helping out another area or lending
            tools to another area, assisting vet when observing an animal, etc,
            etc, etc......
            > But that's not all: All of us also have work to do that we can't
            fit into the workday, and so we must bring it home. Examples are:
            exhibit renovation plans, chute designs, schedule adjustments,
            training protocols, and various other proposals to better the care
            of the animals or look of the zoo.
            > Wait a minute: Those observant ones on the list may realize that
            I left out one of the more important things that a keeper
            (especially a PC elephant keeper) does with the animals ---
            training. Unfortunately, at this point, we have to take care of all
            of this other crap first. But I'm not bitter ;)
            >
            > This does, however, bring me to a question to all of you current
            keepers. One of my solutions to making more time in the day for
            keepers is to become salaried. That way we are not a slave to the
            timeclock and the management who has a stick up their butt about
            it. It would allow greater flexibility to stay an extra 15-30
            minutes so that things such as training can be done and the keepers
            can go home feeling satisfied that those things that needed to get
            done in a day, actually did get done. It would sure beat getting
            out frustrations on yahoogroups. So how many zoos out there have
            salaried keepers rather than hourly? I have heard that local or
            state government laws may have to get bypassed to allow this. How
            might that be done? I'd love some help here!
            >
            > Thanx
            > Tim
          • Skip Yeager
            Tim... all your info is great!! you are a fine example of the type of people that the world needs to be watch over our animal treasures... I hope there are
            Message 5 of 12 , Sep 3, 2003
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              Tim... all your info is great!!  you are a fine example of the type of people that the world needs to be watch over our animal treasures... I hope there are more keepers out there that will be as honest and articulate as you have been ... did you mention where you worked?  look forward to hearing more from you too!... do you have any thought on getting more keepers and curators to join the group??  us want-a-bees are hungry for info ... believe it or not you and your companions are heroes to many children and adults alike.... keep up the good work.. thank you.
               
              To all you other keepers. let's hear from you!
              ----- Original Message -----
              Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 6:05 PM
              Subject: Re: [zookeeper] Re: A day in the life of a Zookeeper

              As elephant keepers, we wonder that very thing.  Zoo wide, all areas are understaffed even when fully staffed.  I described my own area, but nearly every area is feeling the same stress to get things done with little luck.  The maned wolves, cheetahs, bison, and camels are all part of the Elephant department.  Cheetahs and elephants are pretty similar ;)  It is really all about the proximity of those exhibits to our building.  "Easier" for us to take care of them than the Predator or Hoofstock departments.  Money is, of course, tight so I doubt another keeper will be hired.  A part timer is possible, but it won't be anytime soon.  As for the 10 hour days, I would love to do that, but that would also require the hiring of at least one more keeper to fill in for the people on that third off day.  It's a grim situation at times.
              As for other advice to those of you considering becoming keepers, do it for the love of the job.  This isn't a field that pays well (in most cases), but if you love your job, then the money doesn't really matter.  You can always marry into money :)  I have only been in this job for two years and started out with a BS in Biology (minor in psychology helped too) and two years of experience in vet clinics.  There are zoos out there that are considered "teaching zoos" or "starter zoos".  This is where I am.  They hire people with little experience, usually straight out of college, and you learn everything you need to know on the job.  It really is a good way to start your career.  I should also add that if you aren't willing to do hard work, then pick another field.  I'm sitting here right now after a day of work and I haven't showered yet.  I have stains on my uniform from bleach, sweat, and dirt (maybe a little poop mixed in).  It is rare that I don't go through 40oz of water in the day to replenish all that I have being sweating.  I had a 6-7 yr. old kid ask me one day if my hair was soaking wet from the hose or sweat.  It wasn't the hose.  On the flip side, when it is 30 degrees outside, that exhibit still has to be cleaned.  When it is pouring down rain, that poop still has to be picked up.  I'm not trying to scare anyone out of this job if they really want it, though.  Actually if you really want it, this won't scare you.  We need as many good keepers as we can.  Especially if SSPs prove more and more successful, there will be more and more animals to care for.  Good luck to all you prospectives out there.
               
              Tim
               
              ----- Original Message -----
              From: nusilusi
              Sent: Monday, September 01, 2003 1:51 PM
              Subject: [zookeeper] Re: A day in the life of a Zookeeper

              As an elephant keeper, why do you have so many responsabilities
              outside of your area?

              It could be incredibly difficult to become salaried, assuming you
              have no union. It might be easier to work 10 hour days with three
              days off, as is done in some zoos, or to even ask that another
              keeper be hired.

              Good luck!


              HH




              Sharing knowledge so that animals may benefit from better care.

              Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.


              Sharing knowledge so that animals may benefit from better care.

              Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
            • goldshlager_1999
              ... it might be interesting to have one or more real life zookeepers take the time to document a day in the life. This would be to lend a hint of reality to
              Message 6 of 12 , Sep 5, 2003
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                --- In zookeeper@yahoogroups.com, Skip Yeager <skipyeager@l...> wrote:
                > Since there are several inquiries related to becoming a zookeeper,
                it might be interesting to have one or more real life zookeepers take
                the time to document a day in the life. This would be to lend a hint
                of reality to the job. There are different levels from superduper
                pooper scooper at level 1 to senior keepers and curators.

                I am just an intern but get to do many of the things that Keeper I's
                usually do. On a typical day, I try to be there at 8:30am and am
                usually wearing my water boots and ready to go. I find a Keeper I to
                pair up with and help them with morning duties. Each Keeper I is
                given a string that they are in charge of, with a string consisting of
                a grouping of exhibits. Sometimes I work alongside the keeper, and
                sometimes I am given the exhibit for myself. Because I work with
                different Keeper I's I get exposed to working a majority of the
                exhibits. Some examples of animals include: guanaco, rhea,
                ring-tailed lemur, black & white ruffed lemur, toucan spp., dik-dik,
                and a variety of monkey species. Each exhibit needs unique catering,
                but generally I approach with 3 primary goals; food, water, and
                cleaning. Let's say for an example that I am put in charge of the
                spider monkey exhibit for the time being. The Keeper I or myself
                (under guidance) will shift each and every monkey into an adjacent
                enclosure. Prior to the shift we will place their morning food in
                this area. The shift doors are closed to seal Keeper from animal. I
                first grab a fork, shovel, and trash can and rake leaves, fecal
                matter, and any other organic waste. Time forbidding, I will scrape
                off algae (can exist on earth or concrete). Browse and partially
                consumed food containers from yesterday are taken out and replaced
                with something more fresh. Next, I take out the plug and drain out
                the corner pond. I like to pour a little bleach to kill algae and any
                other stuff that is bad for the animals but not visible to the human
                eye. The plug is placed back and a turn of a valve refills the pond.
                For concrete sections of the exhibit, I take a hose and soak turds
                and leftover food material towards a drainage. This collection is
                scooped into the trash can and I will take out the drain parts and
                make sure it is clean and unclogged. After this I attach a "triple-2"
                (sanitizing liquid) spray head on the hose and spray all the concrete
                again. The water containers must also be scrubbed with soap and
                refilled. I will finish up with some polishing and giving water for
                the plants. Shift doors are reopened so that animals have acess to
                both parts of the enclosure. Everything must be locked and another
                exhibit must be taken care of. There are other aspects to the day
                such as enrichment and training, but that is a majority of what I
                typically do.
              • dogman1014@aol.com
                Well i am like a zookeeper,, i have a 95 runs kennel
                Message 7 of 12 , Sep 5, 2003
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                    Well i am like a zookeeper,,   i have a 95 runs kennel
                • wkingdom9@aol.com
                  thats cool. it s all about caring for animals.
                  Message 8 of 12 , Sep 8, 2003
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                    thats cool.  it's all about caring for animals.
                  • Gibbonkeeper@aol.com
                    Let me make you keepers feel good about working where you work. I work at a non-AZA private facility. I am salary so I work 5 days, 11 hrs. straight (7-6) with
                    Message 9 of 12 , Sep 23, 2003
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                      Let me make you keepers feel good about working where you work. I work at a non-AZA private facility. I am salary so I work 5 days, 11 hrs. straight (7-6) with usually no time to take lunch. We have over 400 animals to care for. We have a seperate Entertainment staff caring for some of the animals. Current  Animal staff consists of my mger, me and 9 keepers total (recently hired 2 increasing our staff to 9). I have done my area by myself for a long time. Only recently OT was approved so some are working 6 days a week.Alot of times our park budget relies on amount of people throught the gate. Salaries for keepers start around $6.50/hr., experienced aound $7.50/hr. Only leads have full time/benefits so most of the staff are part time/no benefits. We average 80% turnover rate past 4 yrs. I have worked here for over 23 yrs. so have seen it all plus numerous owners. Got AZA then lost it. I am here for the animals as we all are. I wouldn't be doing anything else. So when you keepers feel you are having a "tough day" you're not having as tough a day as I.
                    • Jean Ervin
                      Where do you work and in what city and state? Gibbonkeeper@aol.com wrote:Let me make you keepers feel good about working where you work. I work at a non-AZA
                      Message 10 of 12 , Sep 25, 2003
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                        Where do you work and in what city and state?

                        Gibbonkeeper@... wrote:
                        Let me make you keepers feel good about working where you work. I work at a non-AZA private facility. I am salary so I work 5 days, 11 hrs. straight (7-6) with usually no time to take lunch. We have over 400 animals to care for. We have a seperate Entertainment staff caring for some of the animals. Current  Animal staff consists of my mger, me and 9 keepers total (recently hired 2 increasing our staff to 9). I have done my area by myself for a long time. Only recently OT was approved so some are working 6 days a week.Alot of times our park budget relies on amount of people throught the gate. Salaries for keepers start around $6.50/hr., experienced aound $7.50/hr. Only leads have full time/benefits so most of the staff are part time/no benefits. We average 80% turnover rate past 4 yrs. I have worked here for over 23 yrs. so have seen it all plus numerous owners. Got AZA then lost it. I am here for the animals as we all are. I wouldn't be doing anything else. So when you keepers feel you are having a "tough day" you're not having as tough a day as I.

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