Caring for Over 1,000 Animals – ZooTampa Zookeepers

Jul 22, 2022 | Animals, Good News Tampa

It’s National Zookeeper week! To highlight this week, we’d like to honor all the zookeepers at ZooTampa at Lowery Park! Thanks to them over 1,000 animals call Tampa Bay home. Many of which include endangered and threatened species that, in conjunction with their stellar zookeepers, are successfully helping restore their populations! Leading the way in the state of Florida, ZooTampa participates in nearly 100 of AZA’s (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) networks for managing endangered and threatened species, and has won numerous awards for its animal conservation and management programs.

What goes into caring for zoo animals?

There are a couple main factors to take into consideration when it comes to the well-being of an animal from factors such as health and wellness to happiness and stress reduction. It certainly takes a crew to help care for these animals and at ZooTampa staff members are divided into teams such as the Florida Mammal team and Herps and Aquatics team in order to get the job done.

With so much to do, here are the common responsibilities of a zookeeper:

  • Feeding animals
  • Maintaining animal enclosures
  • Monitoring animal behavior
  • Coordinating with and assisting other zoo staff
  • Animal enrichment
  • Record keeping
  • and more

While some duties are routine and familiar, one of the most fun parts of the job is animal enrichment. Enrichment is anything added to the animal’s environment to stimulate their senses and elicit natural behaviors such as foraging, exploration, hunting, problem-solving, and even play! Below are some videos of just how zookeepers at ZooTampa keep the resident animals stimulated!

How Zookeepers help keep species from extinction

Zookeepers have a vast range of knowledge on the animals they care for. Over time they get to learn the animals favorite snack, spot to scratch and more! This along with getting familiar with behavioral tendencies is the exact kind of information that can be used in coordination with other staff members for species longevity. For example, conservation efforts have to take into account which animals would make for good mates which can be based on their personalities! This allows for happy and healthy breeding that will help save species from extinction.

Saving threatened and endangered animals from extinction is a task many zoos take on. ZooTampa in particular participates in 103 Species Survival Programs. They are also a leader in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of Florida species. If you’ve ever visited you may have seen, Bornean Orangutans, African Painted Dogs, Southern White Rhinos – all species that are being kept safe from extinction at ZooTampa. So next time you see a cute new addition to the zoo, you can be sure we are one step closer to flourishing populations of these beautiful animals!

To dive into the daily lives of all of the staff and animals at ZooTampa, be sure to check out National Geographic’s Secrets of the Zoo: Tampa.

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