National ZooKeeper Week: Keeper Conversations


For Zookeeper Week, we asked our keepers to share the most rewarding part of their jobs, as well as some memorable moments. Check it out!

Ashleigh Winkelman, Area 60 (Hoofstock):

“I really enjoy getting to teach kids about rhinos and why they are important. I’d say some of my favorite things to do are the behind the scenes rhino tours where kids get to see the rhinos up close. Doppsee is always so patient and wants attention from everyone. It’s amazing to see kids walk down the hallway a little timid and after their rhino experience, leave with the hugest smile on their face. That’s a memory that that child will always remember, and hopefully they will think of it and think about why it’s important to conserve animals and their environments. It makes the hard, dirty work worth it.”

Murphy Swartz, Area 60:

“One of my favorite things to do when I have a few spare moments in the day is to bring some grapes or browse over to the kangaroo yard and spend time hanging out with the mob! (A group of Kangaroos is knows as a “mob”).

Annie Marcum, Area 70 (Carnivores & Primates):

“I love being a zookeeper. It’s a very rewarding knowing that every day I can make a positive impact in the care of the animals at Potter Park. We have have the opportunity everyday to build positive bonds and create meaningful and engaging experiences for our animals and our visitors.”

Liz Jagenow, Area 70:

My favorite memory is when we were able to hand vaccinate the red pandas for the first time, after MONTHS of training. Both pandas barely batted an eye. It’s probably the proudest I’ve ever been of an animal’s accomplishments!

Ginny Miecznikowski, Area 80 (Birds & Reptiles):

“My favorite part of the job is seeing when training has a positive impact on our relationship with our animals. We have recently begun a new training program with the red tail hawk and she has become much more comfortable in our presence. We are now able to voluntarily weigh her every week, which is an important way for us to monitor her health.”

Nick Tap, Area 80:

“To me, being a zookeeper means educating the public about the importance of biodiversity and conservation through the training and display of a wide variety of animal species, all the while providing the best possible care for these animals.”