The third week of July is National Zoo Keeper Week. This week is for celebrating and honoring all the zookeepers who are working to preserve wildlife. National Zoo Keeper Week was created by the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK). It was recognized by the U.S. Congress as a national week in 2017.
Now every year, zoos across the United States celebrate this week to recognize all the hard work zookeepers do for animals. In honor of this celebration, we want to share how zookeepers help wildlife and assist For Elephants with African elephant research.
The duties of a zookeeper
One of the responsibilities that zookeepers have is feeding animals. Everyday zookeepers make sure the animals have the necessary amount of food to keep them healthy and active. Zookeepers continue to feed animals as many times a day is necessary. Elephants, for example, spend most of their time eating and require more food throughout the day.
Conduct daily assessments
Beyond just feeding animals, zookeepers do daily check ups on animals. They make sure the animals are not hurt and look healthy. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute states that they do daily visual assessments of the elephants. The zookeepers observe different parts of the elephant and reward them with their favorite food. However, it is important to note that these elephants are not forced to do any of these assessments.
Throughout the day, zookeepers also provide animals with enrichment time. During this time, animals get the opportunity to get exercise. This helps animals stay active both physically and mentally. Zookeepers will sometimes take animals outside to run or swim. Plus, these animals get introduced to toys that keep them mentally engaged.
After all the cleaning and caring is done at the end of the day, zookeepers do daily reports. These reports help keep track of an animal’s social, physical and behavioral health. This helps keep zookeepers determine if an animal is ill and also helps collect data.
Aside from taking care of animals, zookeepers also educate people about animals. They help inform the general audience the principles and importance of wildlife and habitat conservation. By sharing this knowledge with zoo visitors, zookeepers help people understand the importance of preserving wildlife and encourage them to take conservation actions.
How For Elephants helps zoos
Currently, For Elephants is working closely with zoos across the United States to provide the best conservation strategies for elephants. Why is this important? Well, African elephant research has found that right now elephants are not self-sustaining in zoos. This means that elephants are at risk of “captive extinction” in zoos.
Dr. Morfeld, For Elephants Founder, has discovered that the female elephants in zoos are not cycling like they would in the wild. From research, she found that the lack of cycling for elephants is due to their body conditions and lack of mental and physical engagement. Elephant dung that is provided by the zookeepers helps us test an elephant’s stress and reproductive hormones to determine the best care for elephants.
With the help of zookeepers, we would not be able to conduct our African elephant research. To help us continue the research, donate to us! If you would like to work with For Elephants, contact us at!