Birmingham Zoo

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 Be sure to thank a Zoo Keeper this week! We're thankful for the Trails of Africa Department! #NZKW2017 "It's a great day here in the Trails of Africa Department! It takes a big team to care for such big animals. While some of our team specializes and focuses on just a few species, we all work together to ensure we are providing the best possible care for all 21 individual animals. Between cleaning elephant tusks, trimming giraffe hooves, and bathing the hippopotamus, we sure stay busy over here. In fact, we were so busy today that only a small portion of our team was able to make it for this photo! We have an awesomely diverse team that has come here from all over the country and has brought unique skills with them. Working together allows us to pass these skills along to each other and help each other strive for greatness every day. Please be sure to come out and visit us!" - Jess Durante, Animal Care Professional, Trails of Africa
 Today we're thankful for the Programs Department. Be sure to thank a Zoo Keeper during Zoo Keeper Appreciation Week! "The Programs Department is home to one of the most diverse groups of Animal Care Professionals and animals! With the second largest collection in the zoo, Programs staff is responsible for birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and PEOPLE! We host the Schaefer Eye Center Wildlife Shows and even help out in hosting the Predator Department’s Predator Zone and Red Diamond Sea lion show in the summer. You need a good pair of walking shoes to be a Programs keeper as we are all over the place. We love engaging with guests with one of our 60 Ambassador Animals that you can only see at a show, birthday party or encounter at a creature cart." - Kelly Garrison, Animal Interpretation and Programs Zoological Manager
 It may be National Zoo Keeper Week, but we also want to thank our Animal Health Center staff! "Our department includes 2 veterinarians, 2 licensed veterinary technicians, 2 hospital/ quarantine keepers and 1 registrar. Collectively it is our job to provide top notch veterinary care for all of the zoo's animal. We manage everything from poison dart frogs to elephants. We work closely with keepers all around the zoo because they are the ones who will first notice when there is something wrong with an animal. They work with the animals on a day-to-day basis and are constantly observing them. The vets and the technicians are mainly responsible for performing annual health exams, assessing animals if they are ill, and devising/ implementing a treatment plan. The keepers are mainly responsible for the general care of our quarantine and hospitalized animals. Every new animal that comes to our zoo goes through quarantine. Basically they are kept separated from all current resident animals at the zoo until they are deemed healthy by the veterinarians. Our keepers have the knowledge and skills to work with a wide variety of animals to guarantee everyone's health. They are able to build temporary habitats, provide proper diets, observe for medical or behavioral issues, and clean up after them. The registrar is in charge of managing the animal collection data of the zoo. Responsibilities include: managing all animal transactions within the zoo, such as births, deaths, incoming animals from other institutions, and outgoing animals to other institutions; creating and curating husbandry and medical data; and applying for and managing state and federal permits from relevant government agencies. All members of our team have to be extremely flexible as our day can change at any moment." - Bridget Weidner, Head Veterinary Technician
 "The night shift keepers get to lock up the Zoo and take care of the animals when everyone else is gone. In addition to that they take care of the three B’s. They cut browse for the animals, monitor the bat population on Zoo grounds, and take care of the bee colony. Here's Nikki Strain, Lead Keeper and bee keeper, dipping out the 57 pounds of honey they collected from the Zoo hive yesterday. They are so creative and dynamic and the Zoo is lucky to have them watching over the animals at night and doing other wonderful things."- Cindy Pinger, Curator of Nights Thanks for all that you do Night Shift Keepers! #nzkw2017
 Today we're thankful for the Bird Department and all that they do! Be sure to thank a Zoo Keeper during Zoo Keeper Appreciation Week! #NZKW2017 "Don’t quack up just yet – there’s a lot of important skills that it takes to be a bird keeper. You really need an eagle eye for detail, as you’ll take care of an average of 75 birds a day owl on your own. But don’t worry, when it comes down to handling a bird for medical tweetment, toucan play at that game! If a bird is feeling under the feather, we can always help it carrion. Wren it comes to bird breeding, we’re not just winging it! We have lots of successful breeding pairs and send chicks flying to zoos all around the country. If birds aren’t your favorite, well no harm no fowl, but we believe these creatures are some of the nest around. We’re a family here – you won’t egret joining the team." - Anna Turkett, Lorikeet Keeper and Interpreter
 Have you ever wondered who manages all of the animals' diets? The amazing Animal Nutrition Team takes care of this and more, and we're all thankful for them! #NZKW2017 "Whether we're providing nutrition for an Egyptian Tortoise in the Reptile Department, or feeding Bulwagi, the 13,500 pound African Elephant, the effort that is necessary for animal care staff to order, receive, clean, prepare, deliver and feed out specialized diets to every animal at the Birmingham Zoo is tremendous. Here, we have Carion, Laura, and I who work in the Birmingham Zoo's Animal Nutrition Center. Our team works 365 days a year to provide food and enrichment for over 900 animals. Each day we surpass USDA and AZA standards for cleanliness in the Zoo's animal food preparation areas and we prepare animal diets that consist of top quality ingredients. Whether an animal's diet is comprised of hay, grains, produce, meat, fish, rodents, and/or insects, it is ANC staff's responsibility to ensure that the ingredients will consistently be of the highest quality available. We also work alongside Animal Care Professionals and Zoological Managers to creat exciting enrichment opportunities for the animals. Additionally, maintaining and strengthening professional relationships within the Animal Department ensures proper communication and efficiency. It is an honor to be a part of the animal care team and to provide optimal care for the animals each and every day! - Star Bullock, Lead Animal Nutrition Technician
 Today we are thankful for our amazing Predator Department! "Hello from the Predator Department! There are special characteristics that predator keepers need to success in our department. We are driven, ambitious, athletic, creative, good looking (obviously), and always willing to help others! The only this we don’t need that most of our coworkers possess is tolerance to the heat! Only the Sea Lion girls, who are part of our team, possess that valuable trait. We are all very knowledgeable about our animals, so be sure to stop by and ask us any questions you have!" - Erin Miller, Animal Care Professional, Predator Department
 Today we're thankful for our amazing Children's Zoo staff and all that they do for the animals. "Children's Zoo Keepers must possess a number of qualities. Things such as motivation, stamina, problem solving, positive attitude, a strong work ethic, the ability to adjust to daily situations and strong people skills. Not to forget a lot of animal knowledge!" - Tyler Eads, Children's Zoo Zoological Manager