July 15, 2014

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639
Joanna Bender, 314/646-4703


The Saint Louis Zoo will celebrate the profession of zookeeping during National Zookeeper Week, July 20-26, 2014.

"The Zoo is happy to honor this amazing group of animal specialists," says Dr. Jeffrey P. Bonner, Dana Brown President and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo. "Our zookeepers devote their lives to taking care of very special animals on a daily basis, to conserving species for the future and to educating the public about the need to preserve animals and their habitats."

On Thursday, July 24, from 9 a.m. to noon, zookeepers will offer enrichment activities and chat with visitors about their careers in animal care.

Here's the animal enrichment schedule:

9 a.m. – Andean bear enrichment and keeper chat in River's Edge
9:30 a.m. – Activity to be determined
10 a.m. – Lemur enrichment and keeper chat at the Primate House
10:30 a.m. – Red kangaroo enrichment at Red Rocks
11 a.m. – Giant tortoise enrichment and keeper chat outside of the Herpetarium
11:30 a.m. – Chimpanzee enrichment and keeper chat at Fragile Forest
Noon – Keeper chat at Children's Zoo

Keeper chats are also offered every day at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 5 p.m. at various locations throughout the Zoo.

Zookeepers have a very interesting history that began in the earliest times of human history. The Saint Louis Zoo has 83 full-time and 29 part-time and seasonal zookeepers; 68 percent of them are female. Most of the Zoo's keepers hold bachelor's degrees; degrees in biology, zoology or a related field are preferred. The Zoo's staff includes keepers with master's degrees and PhDs.

The Zoo's well-trained keepers range in age from 24 to 67, and their duties revolve around providing the best possible care for the animals in their care. This includes, but is not limited to: providing species-appropriate diets for all animals and the daily care of animals, cleaning exhibits, monitoring animal health and reporting any problems, conducting scientific research, educating the public, keeping records, using positive reinforcement to train animals and providing enrichment to the animals in their care—to name just a few.

The St. Louis Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) will present a photo display in The Living World showcasing all aspects of zookeeping. The current St. Louis chapter was established in 2003 and includes zookeepers, Zoo staff and volunteers dedicated to professional animal care and conservation.

Created by AAZK, Inc., National Zookeeper Week is celebrated each year in July. During the week, zoos nationwide honor animal care professionals and the work they do in animal care, conservation and education. There are approximately 6,000 animal care professionals in the United States.

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About Saint Louis Zoo
The Saint Louis Zoo is widely recognized for its innovative approaches to animal management, wildlife conservation, research and education. The Zoo attracts 3,000,000 visitors each year.