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.
2003 Sloan Grant
Senior Animal Keeper Candace Sclimenti pursued field research at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia, Africa, where she assisted in the care and feeding of orphaned chimpanzees at the sanctuary.
Daily tasks included food preparation for chimpanzees and monkeys, cleaning cages, fence maintenance, care and feeding of birds, tortoises, antelope, and other animals at the orphanage.
For Candace, it was the opportunity of a lifetime. “Because of my zookeeping experience, they allowed me a more hands-on experience than other volunteers that are researchers that go there,” she says. “I was there for my thesis, which focused on the integration and socialization of young juvenile chimps. But it also directly tied in with my job at the Zoo. It was great to see other people’s method and their style of introducing them. And they’ve been doing this for 20 years. I came back with the knowledge that we are taking every precaution possible and we really know what we’re doing. Because there they just kind of put the chimps together and they have to work it out and that’s it. It’s not like they have a “howdy” process or do protective contact introduction work before hand. They just put them together.
“The biggest thing for me, though was realizing how well taken care of our chimps are,” she concludes. “We take so much for granted without even realizing it. I think a lot of times we just lose our perspective and me going out there put everything back into perspective.”