Unsung Heroes Of The Animal World
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Politics and Activism

Unsung Heroes Of The Animal World

The secrets all animal care-givers know.

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Unsung Heroes Of The Animal World
Morgan Williams

Zoos will always exist. Since the first were created as menageries for rich kings, animals have been collected from around the globe to act as the ambassadors of rare and amazing species. While I do not speak on behalf of any organization, I feel my opinion is one widely shared. I study animal behavior and have worked in a zoo for over two years, and have I sure heard it all.

"She looks sooooo sad!"

"It's terrible that they are stuck in such small cages!"

"These animals will never be happy..."

Sure, you are right, I can not read the mind of my favorite heifer, nor do I know for a fact that every animal in a zoo is happy, but I do know a secret that every zookeeper, animal care-provider, or zoo staff member knows: Each and every animal is loved, and people are doing everything possible to ensure the best lives for these creatures.

It is a big claim to suggest all those people agree, but it is pretty obvious from the inside. You need to be a special type of person to wake up each morning, rain or shine, humidity or snow, to scoop poop. The typical human would get bored measuring out the daily diets of individual porcupines, cutting apart mice for birds of pray, or trudging through the snow in shorts because the greenhouse will always be hot. Not a true zoo keeper.

The best keepers can tell from a glance if their animals are upset and not just because happy animals are safer to work with, but because we truly care. To be a keeper is to be not only the person scrubbing holding areas, a dietitian, and trainer, but also to be the person on the front-lines protecting endangered species, choosing the best things for the animals while also being a mass educator, and teaching the public about the intricate lives of diverse creatures.

Many people seem to believe a zoo is just a fun place to see cool stuff, but it can be a portal to locations across the globe. From the African Savannah to a colonial farm disguised as a petting zoo, zoos are essential for creating a connection beyond the human species. Each day I teach dozens of people about the animals taken for granted in their supermarkets and coloring books, and it can be quite amazing to see the willing ignorance melt away as a connection is made.

So next time you head to a zoo, go with an open mind to learn about the animals being saved by conservation and captive breeding. Think about the animals you think you know, and search the signs and pick the minds of any staff to learn everything possible about the amazing creatures being pampered with special diets, top notch veterinary care, and handmade enrichment, because there is nothing more satisfying.

Lastly, if you are daring enough, try to thank any keepers you see for doing the work many have dedicated their lives to, instead of trying to complain about topics you are not nearly as well educated in; it will make their whole week better knowing their hard work is recognized.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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