Keepers have a very physical and time consuming job, but also the special opportunity to get up close and form relationships with their animals!
A day in the life of a Keeper generally begins with feeding the animals. Keepers sometimes help prepare the food, but depending on the animal this may also be done by the assets team (for example, making bamboo cake for the Giant Pandas).
Keepers often hide food in different places around the enclosure before the animals are let out from their night quarters, so they have to hunt for their food like they would in the wild. This is called behavioural enrichment and keeps the animals mentally stimulated.
Most of our animals go through a few hours of behavioural training with their Keepers every day. This involves things like training them to present their forearms for needles (so they know what to do when they have blood taken for their health checks), as well as more in-depth and ongoing training like how to behave and respond to certain actions from their Keepers. This builds trust between the Keepers and their animals.
Other tasks that keepers are required to carry out during each day include cleaning the enclosure and night quarters, record keeping (on things like the animal’s weight and feeding patterns to keep track of their health, as well as any unusual behaviours), and delivering talks and presentations to the public about their animals. Keepers also spend significant time on research and training for their animals.