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July 22, 2020

Zookeeper Week Spotlight on Carnivore Keepers

During rain, shine, weekends, holidays, and even global pandemics, our Carnivore Care Team is here to provide for the needs and welfare of animals. While the Zoo was closed to the public, they were still on site each day to make sure all the lions, tigers, bears, hyenas, and other carnivores received all aspects of quality animal care: food, water, habitat conditions, behavioral opportunities, medical care, and more. One interesting thing observed by our keepers was that the bears seemed to miss the opportunity to watch Zoo guests – so we provided them with extra entertainment out front by visiting them at the windows and bringing novel things for them to observe through the glass. Overall  the keepers’ jobs were still the same, but now they were doing those duties while wearing masks and other PPE to keep themselves and animals safe. When they learned that felids (cats) are susceptible to the virus, keepers increased precautions by wearing dedicated clothing (such as coveralls) and implementing social distancing protocols, such as the added barriers around Big Cat Country that you’ll notice on your next visit. The bears, and Saint Louis Zoo Carnivore Care Team, are happy to see people back at the Zoo!


Thanks for visiting @kimrunnels! We hope you visit again soon!

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Zookeeper Week Spotlight on Pinniped Keepers

Upon the Zoo’s closure to the public in March due to COVID-19, departments, including the Judy and Jerry Kent Family Sea Lion Sound, split into two teams indefinitely. Despite the closure and schedule change, Sea Lion Sound staff still provided the best quality care to our group of 12 pinnipeds, which included continuing to work with the animals several times a day during training sessions in preparation for The Goddard School Sea Lion Show. 

The new operating schedule provided some challenges to the team when it came to working together to modify our show to safely open, addressing training issues, and passing off new behaviors to other team members. To combat this challenge, the two teams maintained close communication in new ways, including Zoom calls, daily logs, detailed e-mails, and even GoPro videos. Trainers had been working on new behaviors with the animals during the off season in preparation for show season, and when these behaviors were completed and it came time to pass the behaviors off to other trainers to try, staff often used GoPro videos to show the opposite team what the new completed behaviors looked like in detail. This allowed us to make sure we were being as clear as possible with each other and also made sure we were setting our animals up for success, even though we could not see each other in person! Check out some of the videos we took and shared within our department to help show new sea lion behaviors.  

Once the Zoo reopened, the typically guest-interactive Sea Lion Show had to be modified to maintain social distance and safe practices for the health of guests and staff. Although the show has been modified, it is still an incredible opportunity for guests to learn about our intelligent, athletic and acrobatic California sea lion superstars and see them in action! We are excited to welcome guests back to see some of the newly trained behaviors. Sea Lion Shows are daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. until August 16.