National Zoo Keeper Week 2016

By Lauren Mercer

LA Zoo Animal Keeper Val Renzetti with baby chimp
National Zoo Keeper Week is an annual celebration recognizing the hard work and dedication of animal care professionals nationwide. To show our appreciation, we are sharing just how much the L.A. Zoo keepers go above and beyond the call of duty.

The Zoo’s mission is “nurturing wildlife and enriching the human experience.” To fulfill that goal, our animal care staff participates in various activities and demonstrations throughout the week to educate as well as entertain visitors. In these “Keeper Talks,” staff members show how they use positive reinforcement to build bonds with and train Asian elephants, incorporate the natural behaviors of birds to display fantastic flying skills, and keep the Zoo’s harbor seals healthy. So, not only are keepers making certain the animals in their charge are thriving, through these presentations, they are also sharing their knowledge and expertise with the public.

Keepers are vital sources of information about the species in their care, and their insight is valued by organizations dedicated to conservation around the world. In January and February of 2016 alone, two of our ape keepers traveled to Africa and participated in gorilla and chimpanzee rehabilitation programs. The information exchanged at these consultations is vital to ensuring the success of endangered species in the wild and captivity. Our conservation projects (insert link) give a glimpse at the numerous international programs that our care professionals dedicate time and energy to nurture.

Outside of hours spent at the Zoo, keepers from different institutions come together and devote their free time to events like Bowling for Rhinos, which raises funds to protect rhinos and control poaching. Since the event’s inception, the L.A. Zoo has helped raise over $5.4 million.

There are few individuals as passionate about animals as zookeepers. We are extremely grateful that they dedicate their lives to ensuring that the animals in their care are healthy and flourishing.

Read related stories from L.A. Zoo animal keepers:

Gorillas in Our Midst (Part I): Rescue, Rehabilitation, and Reintroduction
The Red Rhino Blogs (Part VI): Black and White and Red All Over
The Red Rhino Blogs (Part VII): Mischievous Harapan
Chimpanzees of Gabon (Part I): A Friendly “Bonjour!”
Chimpanzees of Gabon (Part II): It’s “Howdy” Time”
Chimpanzees of Gabon (Part III): Next Steps