IDAHO FALLS — The EastIdahoNews.com team is highlighting different jobs in our area and every Monday for the next several weeks, we’ll be workin’ it in a variety of professions.
I have always enjoyed the zoo — and loved animals. The opportunity to be a zookeeper for a day was something I jumped at immediately. But I quickly learned that the job of a zookeeper is a difficult one, which involves far more than playing with the animals.
The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park opened in 1935. It is currently home to more than 300 animals, with 21 employees and numerous interns, volunteers and seasonal employees caring for those animals.
While spending time with three zookeepers — Carissa, Mikayla and Lance — I experienced parts of a day in the lives of the people tasked with caring for some of those animals. Each zookeeper gave me different tasks, like raking out the tortoise enclosure, cleaning the flamingo and penguin enclosure and setting up “enrichment” exercises for the Gibbon monkeys.
Due to concerns regarding tuberculosis in the mostly primate zone of the zoo, we were required to wear masks while with the monkeys. Zoo staff are regularly subjected to TB tests for this reason.
Caring for animals, I discovered, is a lot like being a parent. It involves learning the animals, their mannerisms and demeanors, and monitoring them for changes and helping the animals learn.
Watch the video above to see what it was like to be a zookeeper for a day.