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10 Daily Struggles Faced by Zookeepers

Anuj Mudaliar
For a person who likes animals, the life of a zookeeper can seem like a dream come true, as one interacts with a plethora of wild, exotic critters. However, this job is not as glamorous and easy as it seems. Take a look at the daily problems of zookeepers...
Be it a cleanup of a zoo enclosure, or a medical checkup for the animals, zookeepers have to get close to the animals, looking at and touching things they would rather not. Rarely, a lonely animal might attempt to use the zookeeper as a substitute for a mate, which can be very discomfiting to say the least.
The work of a zookeeper never really stops, regardless of the weather. In times of rain and snow, their workload only increases, as tropical animals react badly to such climate changes. This is very irritating when others complain about the weather, only to go and sit in air-conditioned offices.
A zookeeper's job is physically demanding, and needs a lot of patience. So much so, that by the end of the day, one does not know if they are covered in sweat, or something with animal origins.
It could be animal feed, urine, diarrhea, placental matter, etc., which means that a strong stomach is essential in this profession. So, if a plate of food tastes like shit, you know that it probably is so.
Taking care of animals is a 24 x 7 job. Animals do not care about work shifts or holidays, so neither can a zookeeper. This aspect of the job is especially magnified if you are taking care of a reindeer on Christmas eve.
The adrenaline pumps through your veins especially when you have some work in the enclosure of one of the carnivores of the zoo. However, even the herbivores and birds have the potential to cause some serious damage.
You know that there are safety precautions in place, but every now and then your imagination can get the better of you. What was that!? Did someone leave the Bengal tiger's gate open?
While the life expectancy of animals in a zoo is much higher than wild ones, death is an inevitable part, despite all the efforts put in. The euthanization/death of one's charges is very painful, especially in case it's a young one, which takes days and sometimes months before things start feeling normal again.
Zookeepers struggle to work 24x7 for their animals; cleaning, feeding, bathing, medicating, etc. However, the animals never seem happy about the care. They seem to resent the presence of their keepers, due their wild nature. This, despite the fact that, the work of the zookeeper is essential for their well-being.
It is not uncommon that zookeepers are pecked, scratched, slapped, chewed on, pissed on, and pooped on, before even half their shift is over. Really, animals show their love for you in very unique ways.
One of the most irritating problems faced by zookeepers is spotting a visitor trashing the zoo, or even worse, doing something that harms the animals.
Visitors throwing stones, or giving lit cigarettes to the animals, is unfortunately common in zoos around the world. Such behavior can really make you see red. However, with time and persistent awareness programs, the general public is developing a favorable attitude, although there is still a long way to go.
There are many misconceptions about the zoo industry among the public.
Most people think that zookeepers are largely uneducated, when actually, almost all zookeepers have completed college, and may have a Bachelors or Master's degree related to biology or animal care. Due to this attitude of the public, one can often face unwarranted criticism about the way one takes care of the zoo inmates, which can get really irritating.