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.
2007 Sloan Grant
With funding from the 2007 Sloan Grant, Animal Keeper Cori Monetti was able to work with wildlife biologists with the Cameroon Wildlife Aid Fund in Cameroon, Africa. There, she learned about management styles for the care of larger groups of chimpanzees and gorillas in terms of their diets, behavioral enrichment, quarantine care, and other husbandry components.
The main reason I was there was to learn about the bushmeat trade, pet trade and deforestation, and what is being done to try to stop it. I did not work in the nursery, I was working with the largest group of chimpanzees that they have at the sanctuary (30).
All of the animals at the sanctuary were traumatized! Some saw their parents shot and killed for bushmeat, some were tied to trees for years, some were used for ritualistic purposes where they would cut their ears and eyelids off. It was bad! I did learn a lot about the management of a large troop of chimps in a semi-captive environment, as well as introduction tactics used by the sanctuary. For me, this was helpful with all the intros that we did with the chimps, gorillas and orangs at the zoo. Working with such a large troop helped me with a better understanding of the management of the chimpanzees that I was working with at the Zoo.
As a keeper, I learned to never take for granted all the tools (rakes, shovels brooms etc.) that we are so fortunate to be able to work with. The keepers I worked with didn’t even have hoses!! The trip was an experience of a lifetime, one in which, opened my eyes, taught me a lot and broke my heart all at the same time! It was very life changing!