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Keeper with Tortoise

Celebrating National Zookeeper Appreciation Week

Philadelphia Zoo celebrates the 15th anniversary of National Zookeeper Appreciation Week!

At Philly Zoo, we have more than 45 zookeepers caring for our 1,700 animals across 14 unique exhibits. Join us in thanking our keepers for their dedication to protecting wildlife and caring for our animals every day, and enjoy these behind-the-scenes perspectives on life as a keeper at the Zoo.

Keeper Jen, Big Cat Falls

“Our Amur leopard Kira and lioness Tajiri have mastered the feeding pole. Climbing the pole and snatching the meat at the top imitates the high energy output and muscular exertion big cats naturally use in the wild when capturing large prey. This enrichment not only gives our cats a new way to exercise, but it also allows them to use their problem-solving skills. Other cats who have attempted the feeding pole but haven’t quite made it to the top yet include our male lion Makini and our Amur tiger brothers Wiz and Dimitri—so stay tuned for their next attempts!”

Keeper Lauren, KidZooU

“I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I did know that it was with animals. I started my internship at the Zoo nine years ago and never looked back! I have the opportunity to work with a variety of animals, and every day is a little bit different—what’s not to love? The relationships I make with the animals in my care are as important to me as the relationships I have with my own animals at home. I love my job and can’t really imagine doing anything else!”

Keeper Abby, Rare Animal Conservation Center

“I have the privilege of working with different species of primates, sloths, fruit bats, and a few other types of animals inside our Rare Animal Conservation Center. Though I love every one, I have to say that the Rodrigues fruit bats might be my favorite! Some people walk by them and get creeped out, but if you really spend time watching them, you will see just how curious they are. Look at this video and try and tell me they aren’t the cutest sky puppies in the whole world!”

Keeper Ellie, Water Is Life

“I am so fortunate to work with such amazing and diverse creatures every day. Making their lives fun and exciting, and getting to work with the conservation projects of the species I chose to work with, is why I do what I do. Keeping them in top health both physically and mentally is sometimes challenging and—it’s the best kind of challenge. I can’t imagine having to do anything else but work with these amazing guys! I’ve worked in the field with the Waldrapp Ibis Project and hope to someday work in the field with Save the Giants, a Giant Otter Project in Guyana.”

Keeper Tara, KidZooU

“I take care of the biggest and smallest creatures at KidZooU. The alpacas, goats, mini-horses and sheep are always a crowd favorite because they have big personalities, but the insects get a much different response! I never imagined myself being an invertebrate keeper, but now I wouldn’t have it any other way. My favorite part of being an invertebrate keeper is finding success in breeding projects; plus, the nymphs (babies) are just so cute! I love teaching our barnyard animals new behaviors, like walking through the Zoo. If you see me on the path with one of my hoofstock friends, please stop to say hi!”

Keeper Christina, Bird Valley

“What I find the most rewarding as a bird keeper at the Zoo is giving injured wild birds a second chance at life. When I first entered the field, I volunteered at a wildlife rehabilitation center helping injured birds. When I made the transition to zookeeping, I felt honored to continue that work for birds that couldn’t be released back into the wild. Some animals suffer injuries that cause lifelong complications that would make it difficult for them to hunt for food and move around their environment. It has been incredible working with the Zoo’s beautiful vultures, eagles, and caracaras, making sure their lives are the best they can possibly be.”

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