Behind the Scenes: Animal Care Spotlight

Behind the Scenes: Animal Care Spotlight

For this installment I thank Kathy, our Communications and Volunteer Manager, as she sat down with Sara and wrote this wonderful report!

“There are people who truly admire and appreciate the work of zookeepers. You might call them “Zoopies” (like groupies, but for animal care specialists instead of lead singers). But, before you consider the ‘glamorous’ life of a zookeeper, we talked to Animal Care Manager, Sara Welge about her work here at Ross Park Zoo.

Some of Sara’s favorites are the goats and she’s one of their favorites, too!

Sara hails from Mastic Beach on the south shore of Long Island and attended Binghamton University, first studying English before diving into a Biology major as her love of animals pulled her in this new direction. She interned at Long Island Aquarium where her passion for wildlife deepened and, as she interned at Ross Park Zoo during her senior year, she says it became clear to her that this was what she wanted to do.

It wasn’t just stepping from internships into employment, although Sara says apprenticeships and internships are very valuable in establishing oneself in a chosen career. Sara had a lot of applications turned down. She says the field of zoo and aquarium animal care is very competitive even after someone has completed at least a bachelor’s degree program in biology, zoology, animal behavior or other related science discipline.

Once you’re in, there are new challenges. There are no set days off. The animals need care, holiday or no holiday, weekends, summer, fall, winter, spring, snow, rain, heat and cold.

There’s heavy lifting of feed, bedding and items for the animals’ habitats.

And, of course, poo; lots of poo! Animals don’t clean their own habitats, you know!
But, the rewards are so great: watching an animal you’ve worked with suddenly “get it” and do that behavior you’ve asked of them that contributes to their well-being, successful breeding of an endangered animal that helps to preserve the future of the species, providing an enrichment item that evokes the exact natural behavior that animal should engage in, and watching guests as they become aware of the many wonderful, beautiful animals right here at Ross Park Zoo that they may have never seen before but that need and deserve conservation!

Sara’s wish? That people enjoy their time visiting the zoo, learn something and be proud to have this treasure right here in Binghamton, New York!

How to help:

You can actually shop for the animals! The keepers have a list of items they need for enrichment, training and animal care on the zoo’s Amazon Wish List.

You can purchase artwork done by one of the animals or a piece from Zookeeper and watercolor artist, Miranda Fink at the online store, or at the gift shop, with every animal art sale directly benefiting the zookeepers’ Animal Welfare Fund.

You can contribute directly by donating online or mailing a monetary donation marked “Animal Welfare Fund” to:

Ross Park Zoo

185 Park Ave.

Binghamton, NY 13903 “

Thank you Kathy and Sara for providing this insight into the world of animal care!

Have a topic of interest? Let us know in the comment section below!

No Comments

Post A Comment