A Trip to the Zoo with Animal Helpers: Meet keepers from the Austin Zoo

Working in a zoo is a unique job, and four keepers from the Austin Zoo share their experience from getting the job, to the daily life of caring for animals.

First we talk with Keeper Kris Ledoux, who has been a zookeeper for 4 years and works with the birds, farm animals, reptiles, coatis, goats and prairie dogs.

Longhorn enrichment on train ride.kris ledoux on right

Please talk a little about your training (how you became a keeper) to help our young readers understand the process.

I was a science teacher when I started volunteering here. I liked working at the zoo better!

Do any of the animals’ behaviors make you laugh aloud? If so, what are they?

All of the time. Goats and donkeys have great personalities. They are funny when the play.

For our young readers who would love to work at the zoo, how would you suggest they get started?

 A science degree is important. And, volunteer for rescue groups! It will teach you about caring for animals and what is involved. 

Keeper Marcy Griffith has been with the zoo two years and works with lions, tigers, bears, foxes, wolves, snakes, lizards, kinkajous, and tortoises.

marcy griffith with tortoise

What is your favorite part of your job?

Spending time with the animals is my favorite. I also like watching them eat and play. 

Please provide details on working with the animals under your care, including socializing, feeding, and enrichment. Do you create toys and enrichment items for the animals? If so, what are they?

We use boxes with food and scents.

What behaviors and cues do you observe to help gauge the animals’ physical and mental health?

If they aren’t eating well or are tired all of the time, or they are pacing a lot, it may mean something is wrong.

Working with the big cats, bears, monkeys, lemurs and parrots is Keeper Chelsey Norman, who has been with the zoo for one year.

Please talk a little about your training (how you became a keeper) to help our young readers understand the process.

Volunteering in animal care at a vet clinic and at the zoo.

Do any of the animals’ behaviors make you laugh aloud? If so, what are they?

One monkey really loves her mirror toy and she makes an angry face at you if you get too close to the mirror.

Do you have pets at home?

Yes, a Siamese cat.

Finally, Keeper Kelly Todd has been with the zoo for seven years and takes care of the primates, big cats and reptiles.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The monkeys

Please talk a little about your training (how you became a keeper) to help our young readers understand the process.

I have a Masters of Arts degree in Anthropology, specializing in primate behavior.

For our young readers who would love to work at the zoo, how would you suggest they get started?

Take science classes.

AH_Zoos_128Thank you to all of the keepers that have participated in this series! If you would like to read more about what it is like to work in a zoo check out Animal Helpers: Zoos.

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