ASK THE EXPERT: How many animals does a keeper take care of?
A. This is one of the more frequently asked questions from members!
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo keepers are most often assigned an area of the Zoo, not a specific species, says Travis Vineyard, Animal Curator. So a keeper in African Elephant Crossing cares for the herd of massive elephants, the tiny naked mole rats, the python and meerkats, as well as an aviary of African birds! The RainForest keepers care for mammals, insects, reptiles and more, often in the same day! Keepers in the Africa section of the Zoo spend time with rhinos, giraffe, zebras and the other species seen near the giraffe yards.
The Sarah Allison Steffee Center for Zoological Medicine has a staff of keepers who attend to the animals coming in and out of the hospital for veterinary procedures or check-ups. They assist the veterinary team in the care and recovery plan, and work with keepers throughout the Zoo about the needs of the individual animal. If a kangaroo comes to the hospital for a procedure, for example, the hospital keepers coordinate with the keepers in Australia until the kangaroo goes back to its habitat.
The Steffee Center team also cares for the animals in quarantine. Most species who come to the Zoo spend the first month or more in the Steffee Center hospital in quarantine until they clear health checks, which also gives our keepers time to get to know the animal, adjust their diet if needed and get them ready to interact with the rest of their species in areas throughout the Zoo.
“Each day here is different, which is what I love,” said Tiffany Mayo, a Steffee Center keeper. “One minute you may be checking on a duckling, the next day you may be seeing a grizzly bear. It makes it exciting to come to work every day.”