Archive for the ‘ Animals/Zoo’s ’ Category

The Cincinnati Zoo Incident with Harambe; a few thoughts…

First, I want everyone who is not a zookeeper, member of zoo staff, or primate behaviorist to sit down and take a really long deep breath.

Second, I want everyone who is not a parent to do the same.

Third, I want the rest of you to pay really close attention to the following:

Everyone; say Om for me breath in, breath out. Ommmmmmm.

Okay, now that we are a bit calmer (I hope) I would like to discuss the tragedy that happened at the Cincinnati Zoo on May 29, 2016. You all know what happened. A human child got into the Gorilla Enclosure and the zoo fatally shot Harambe the 17 year old male silverback gorilla who would not move away from the child.


My absolute sincerest condolences go out to the Cincinnati Zoo family.

I want you non-keepers to understand something; we love our animals. Really and truly. They are literally part of our family. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to make that call; but it was the correct call. The keepers knew it, the zoo knew it. They followed the very correct protocol and kept that child safe. That doesn’t mean that the keepers arent in pain and grieving the loss.No one asked to be put in that situation that day. They made the best decision based on the information at hand and they did it swiftly. Part of being a keeper is having to make quick decisions on your feet a lot. We are used to quickly assessing a situation and coming up with the best ideas. We have protocols and drills for these exact scenarios. The keepers got the other gorillas secured away in holding and did what they had to do to protect that child. At the expense of there own feelings. Can you put aside your personal feelings and shoot someone you love for the safety of another? Can you?

If they hadn’t, or if they had not acted swifter, or if anything else had gone wrong; and that child had died or been seriously injured… what do you think the public would be out-crying about then?

“But what about tranquilizers!” I hear you type furiously. Let me explain something; tranqs don’t work IRL like they do in movies. A large animal can sometimes take 20-30 minutes to go down, or longer. Most of the time it’s not one shot and done boom on the ground. It can take even longer if the animal is rushing on adrenaline. If at all. Think for a moment; if this was your child, would you want to stand anxiously as an unpredictable and intensely strong wild animal has a hold of your child waiting for a tranq to kick in? Seeing the animal possibly become confused and be more likely to hurt your child? Of course not.

“Well those parents should be more watchful! It’s negligence!” I hear you continue to angrily pound away at your computer saying.

Okay, all non-parents, let me explain to you: you can’t control  kids. You can try and watch them as close as possible and teach them whats dangerous and whats not. At the end of the day you can’t watch your child every moment. People make mistakes, turning away for a moment you might lose a child in a large crowd. It doesn’t make you a negligent parent; it makes you a human. Four year olds are curious and love to explore and have zero sense of self preservation. That family just almost lost there child. Now that mother has to read all over the internet a bunch of strangers calling for her head. Can you empathize with that and feel compassion for her? Can you?

I won’t even get started on the throngs of people angrily typing about “the cruelty of animals in zoo’s” because in this day and age there is just no reason for that kind of ignorance and complete blindness to the facts of the matter. That is an entirely separate blog post of which I don’t have time to type right now. Suffice to say for right now; WITHOUT ZOO’S AND ZOOKEEPERS, GORILLAS (and a plethora of innumerable other species)  WOULD ALREADY BE EXTINCT. Ruminate on that awhile.

I get it. You are all looking to blame…. someone… anyone. This event is upsetting and tragic. I sincerely wish everyone would stop making a tragic and unfortunate incident worse by all the sh*t-throwing. Your all acting like lesser primates. Take your outrage and your petitions and whatnot and kindly think about how you are just making a sad story even sadder; for everyone.


Please stop anthropomorphizing Harambe. This is not a Disney cartoon. He was fully capable and could certainly have severely injured/killed that child at any moment. Again, unless you are not a primate specialist please stop talking about Harambe like he was about to hand over the child over the gate while Phil Collins music swells in the background. Have a little sense please.


A Great Conversation

At my job last night working the graveyard I ran into a young lady who really made my night.

It was probably about 4 am and like me she was awake and busy. We began chit-chatting about this and that and she mentioned her studies in animal behavior, she is currently working on her Bachelors degree. I asked her if she planned to go into zookeeping and she enthusiastically said “yes!”

Of course I then spent the next hour having a wonderful conversation with this up and coming potential keeper. Everything from zoo internal politics to best brands of boots and work socks. The bonds we form with the animals, the unexpected highs and lows and of course some of the more comical aspects of keeping. We discussed the difference between an animal caretaker and an animal collector, the importance of networking, AAZK, and conferences, the sadness at losing an animal for any reason but the ability to know what is the best choice and how to deal with that. Whales and elephants in captivity, moral duty vs. wild population and saving species. The horror stories and the caution of always keeping your wits about you. We also spoke of my own path and how I realized quite quickly after my daughter was born that I was becoming a liability simply because I couldn’t maintain that level of focus while raising a small child. We spoke about how I can’t wait to get back into it in a few years when the kids are ready.

She took down my email and I hope to hear from her on her progress in the field. She certainly had that passion and fire for it. She seemed very interested in all of my so-called wisdom. It felt good to be mentoring someone in a subject I care about again. It was a very pleasant night. I am so happy that even though I am not directly affecting my field at the current moment, perhaps in some small way I can help influence its future development.

Currently listening to Amanda Palmer and enjoying my evening with the kids (despite my cold.)

New Job

For the past two years I have been a happy stay at home mom, positively parenting my two wonderful babies and loving every moment. All of that is about to change. Due to our bad luck last fall, the two moves, the pay-cut and the birth, we are really struggling financially. So I have gotten a night job. On top of selling my tutu’s, and working for unnamed “work from home” sellout business.

This week was the first time in over 3 years our account has dipped into the red (plus the overdraft fee’s dammit, sinking us even further in.)Not all the bills last month were paid. The medical bills will just have to wait, and my student loan was late. Anyway, you get the picture.

It is not a bad job that I am starting tonight, just different. It is respectable work at least. The hours are long, 11pm- 7am, but we will not put our infant into daycare, no way. So that’s the way it has to be.I have enough milk pumped to last the first few nights and I will just have to be diligent about pumping at work. Gee that sounds like a fun talk tonight: “Hello! Thank you for hiring me! So here’s the deal, every 2-3 hours I need a 20 minute break to go drain milk from my breasts.” Not really looking forward to it, at least the law is on my side with this!

It is not in my career field. This is weighing on me pretty heavily. I know right now we have to do what is best for our family and that means being selfless and doing what has to be done. I also know it has been over 12 years since I did anything not related to my field except being home with my children. I have only had one other job in my life besides animal care and conservation work.

I am not nervous, I know I can do this kind of work, it is not rocket science. I am sad. I feel far away from my purpose. I feel an empty space where my life’s goal was. I keep trying to find the reasons why my path has been deviated. Perhaps I am to learn a lesson that will help me better achieve my life’s mission later?

My ambitions are clear. They always have been. I want to become a wildlife rehabilitator (specializing in rabies vectors and opossums) and continue zookeeping. I eventually want to be in the position to travel (with family of course) to do some field research, at least once; or travel abroad to other zoo’s and learn how they keep their animals there.

More than anything else, I want to continue to educate the general public about the state of our world and how they can help. I want people to be aware of the changes that are happening and how we as humans are impacting the natural world. I want people to care about the injustice being done to domestic and wild animals. I want people to KNOW and to UNDERSTAND.

I don’t know how the past few months, and the next few months are supposed to help me do that. I have to believe that there is a reason. Being of a scientific mind I am skeptical about many religious things, but there are some truths out there that can not be explained yet. There is a possibility of a higher force, and there is always possibility to learn something new from any situation. I know that the hardship we endure now is just to prepare us for the future. My whole life has been like that. I just don’t have the foresight to see the purpose yet of this particular life lesson.

My biggest immediate worry is how hubby is going to handle Mogwai all night. He is only waking 1-2 times a night for feedings, but he comfort sucks to fall asleep and sometimes will half wake just to comfort suck and make sure I am still right there next to him. Not sure how he is going to handle it, probably by crying to the point of being inconsolable. That thought breaks my heart. I hope hubby and him can come to some understanding. Hubby is wonderful in many many ways, but he is not very good with crying infants.

Speaking of… Mogwai is awake from his morning nap…

My First Affiliation and a NEW Zookeeping book

I am here to PLUG PLUG PLUG!!!


Buy this!

Ok, no really. Go Buy it. I get a percent and there is really a wealth of information and great resources for parents who are interested in an empathy based parenting style.

So, I am not really into affiliations for profit, I don’t really like the idea of it… BUT girls gotta eat huh?  😉

I definitely would never plug something I didn’t actually believe in. I really do think that empathy parenting (of which Mindful Nurturing is all about) is the best parenting style we can aspire to. In our day to day life we try really hard to be positive parents and LISTEN to our kids.

Granted, one is only an infant and the needs of an infant arent too hard to figure out. Speaking of Plugging, I will have a new full blog about empathy parenting an infant coming by the end of the week. So keep a look out!

The Sale starts May 28th 2013, and ends July 10th 2013 so better decide quick!

Another quick plug, of this one I DO NOT receive of percent but I think that everyone (zookeeper or not) ought to buy this book; Zookeeping: An Introduction to the Science and Technology.

It was conceived and edited by my mentor, friend, and college Professor Dr. Mark Irwin. It is on pre-sale now at Amazon and will be available in September.

At the last AAZK conference (maybe some of you were there) Dr. Irwin gave a riveting speech about how important having a resource like this book is to the modern world of keeping. I am SO PROUD of him for completing this book, he has talked about it as long as I have known him. I am in line to get a signed copy, are you?

Till next time, in the words of Doc: “Cheers”  🙂

go check it out

Dr. Irwin speaking about his awesome new book…


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