Donor and former Zoo Commission President, Shelby Kaplan Sloan established the Sloan Animal Keeper Advanced Studies Fund in 2003 to provide keepers with opportunities for hands-on field experiences with particular animals. Upon completing their fieldwork, they share their experiences and insights with the staff and the animals at the Zoo.
June 2009 Award
Animal Keeper L’Oreal Dunn used her 2009 grant to travel to New South Wales in Australia, where she studied bettongs through the Scotia Endangered Mammal Recovery Project. The research explored diet, population dynamics, foraging survival skills, and survival instincts as well as approaches for managing a healthy captive population.
“The thing that left the longest impression on me is that our plant and animal wildlife is invaluable,” L’Oreal comments. In the years following her Sloan trip she moved to the primate section of the Zoo, but the experiences she had in New South Wales have stuck with her. “We need to care for and respect our natural environment and the amazing species that inhabit it. We all need to be responsible for our actions and decisions in order to preserve natural habitats, ecosystems, and endangered species.
“For me to be able to see the animals I work with so closely in captivity out in their natural environment gave me a whole new perspective. To be able to observe the woylies (brush-tailed bettong) and boodies (burrowing bettong) in their natural environment was eye opening. I was able to understand them better and their environment. As a keeper you want to provide the animals with all the enrichment and natural stimulus that you can. This way I was able to see how they live and what they like, then be able to recreate that back at the Los Angeles Zoo for our group of woylies.”