Everyone is different when it comes to choosing a career that best fits their interests and desires. A good place to start when it comes to deciding if a job is right for you is to look at what the job really entails. If you are thinking about being an animal keeper, the first thing you should know is that your days would not consist of just playing with animals. In fact, if you would rather not clean, get dirty, do strenuous labor, be sweaty, work outside in extreme weather, work on your feet all day, or deal with things that most people think are “gross” then this job might not be for you.
Although most of the keepers here would agree that this is the coolest job they could ever have, there are still aspects that aren’t always pleasant or enjoyable. For Kristen, the worst thing is accidentally sending a spray of dirty backsplashed water in her face while cleaning the lemur house. The aspect that Jill dislikes the most is the extreme weather conditions that we have to work in. Sherry’s biggest peave is having to deal with problems or issues such as a sick animal, conflicts between co-workers, or a short turn around on a written project. I personally find that re-arranging the lemur perches is the worst, because every step you take they get snagged on something or you drop them or they hit you in the head or you trip on them!
With all of that said, if you still think that being an animal keeper is what you would like to do, here is some advice from the keepers here. Sherry and Katy both think that the most important thing to know about this job is that you must be a people person. As backward as that may sound, being able to communicate and work well with your teammates, get along with people and interact with guests is a very large part of the job. The other thing that Sherry wants others to know is that animal keeping isn’t as easy as just scooping poop all day. Although cleaning up after the animals is one of our main duties, it takes great discipline, judgement, and keen observation/ attention to detail to be a good animal keeper.
The last piece of advice is to try and volunteer anywhere you can that involves working with animals. This will not only help you to decide if caring for animals is what you want to do, but the experience will help you to get a job in the field later. To the right is a picture of some of our volunteers preparing food and making fruity icecubes for our lemurs as enrichment.